high in the frost where giants dwell, the sky was lost in snow
the rainbow bridge crossed the silver divide, sprinkled upon with stars
silence deep in the midnight, far above the dream of the machines
What does it take to be an everyman?
I know I let another day slip by, the time floating through me and encroaching upon my skin, making it slowly, inevitably more like stone. This is all a dream. But I write things down, anyway, even if the paper will vanish come the end of night. I find the madness comes and goes, the thought that is not a thought leaving me twisted — if only for a moment. I have seen snakes in the fire. Seeing, too, that I have been alone for some time, now, occasionally happy in my own way: I have forgotten what is touch, what it is to feel someone breathing. Notions: another day has fallen, another cycle closed, a dream forgotten.
Or am I no one?
Morning walking through the earliest dawn, Sunday, downtown: amazing how the city can be this quiet. Almost like time moved on without me, and I am the omega man stranded forever in the past. The daydream is too much like the outside world, and I am confused of whether the art of my mind is telling me something about that world, or that the world tells me this other place, inside me, exists somewhere in the commons of all dreaming. I know I speak too much about the dream. It is perhaps the condition of my misspent youth in the last part of the twentieth century, when all around seemed as if it were of a great dream that had been lost. We had to come up with our own; the collective unconscious had nothing to offer us.... And now I realize I don’t know what store it is that I am peering through the window of. A momentary blank.
Time plays tricks on us.
Vague, the meanings that trickle in. I stare in the window, understanding that everyone is selling something. And a lot of us do better at it not actually realizing that little tidbit of existentialism. There are photos of people on display in front of me, of individuals decked out in robes and mortarboards, wearing clean dark suits and bright ties, groups of people who must be related to each other in some how and feinting some kind of sterile smile, women in white white wedding dresses, singled out relatives in front of subdued velvet purple backdrops. Yes, a photographer’s window. He’s selling you memories that he’s concocted, of scenes that would never have happened without that he had set them up. Arranged a bit of your life for you, in simulated perfection. One of the many people we pay to lie to us.
We become who we are in the dreams we forget.
This morning, I woke up and my heart was inexplicably broken. As if the moonlight streaming in the window reminded me of someone I’d never known, a secret I’d kept from myself. Pain removes the reason from us. We are lost in wondering why, nowhere a viable foothold, to slip between the lines on the uncertain page. How does one truly empty his mind? It seems that the only recourse is distraction, to fill it instead with something else, to escape your regular sights and sounds and expose the imagination to novelty. It was still dark out when I awoke, some strange 4am glowing red in the clock by my bed — a hint of an archaic weird. The brokenness inside compelled me, then, and that is all that my memory would keep of the hour I spent between there and here, otherwise a numb blank is all that’s stored.
Nothing to see here, any mirror says more.
What is it I long for, far within my unsearchable waters? We who refuse to open our eyes, lest we believe and be saved.... I remember reading about this woman who lived another complete life in her dreams: she had her waking husband and kids, and house and all; and then she had a second family, a second house, to which she’d return when she said goodnight to the first. What did I, myself, lose to the dreaming? Perhaps nothing so well formed, but some kind of blunt, primordial fire that extinguished itself for my fear of it, fear of any kind of passion? And I will never now be comforted, for what I lost was the torch that led me out of the wilderness, and I am lost in the dark wood of myself, unable to care. (Where am I?)
I say just take it and run: “Hello, I am Everyman.”
Where am I? I am nowhere I want to be, in continual traveling to where I should be. What is the clue? To know you are clueless. What is wisdom? To realize one is a complete idiot. I once heard said that what is unfair about life is that it is fair. For a moment, it sounded as if I’d heard the meaning of life — but such ideation usually comes to very little. And now, I think that is merely a dangerous way of considering what justice in this universe truly may be. Here, this city has no name: it is as when one looks out the window of an airplane and sees a landscape of clouds, and one believes that if he stepped lightly, he could be a citizen of the sky: we do not name these fleeting places, and in the scheme of eternity, all is as having existed infinitesimally. Indeed, all finites are negligible in the face of the endless. ...and the dreaming: it is a land that borders death.
I have heard tell that this is my story.
Once upon a time, time began, and it lined all sequences up, from all which had been the primordial chaos. But you can’t get there from here anymore: infinite detail skipped over, from then to two weeks back: rises and falls, fire and space, distance and trees. And one thing: we do not know if we are alone. When I came into this world, it was as if I had entered a great river, whose source I could never fathom, and its destination only hinted at, ever, in the days where I swam these rapids — trying with dear might just to keep my head above the water.... And what happened to happen two weeks ago, that I put it in the league of cosmic time? Nothing. People shoved and yelled and kicked and fell, just like any other day; it is arbitrary. Therein is the mystery: destiny will take a random value and subject it to such withering heat it cannot help but become alchemical gold. All days were arbitrary, once — all that you hold dear.
Where was I again? In the middle of a sleeping city, lost in myself. Or so went the tune. If I think about it, now, I suppose that any place and time, however lost you are, has elements within it to hold onto a hope — even if you have to carry every one of those elements with you. If there is light where you are and there is no candle held aloft ahead of you, then you, my friend, are the lead candle wherefrom that light emanates. Go on, now. Any minute the streets are going to awaken, trickles of people will become a current strong enough for waves, breaking upon the storefronts and offices. But wait — it’s Sunday, isn’t it? Only the moderate tides of holy water then, we might forecast. Shortly. Today, though, might be just arbitrary enough for something remarkable to happen in it. Don’t you think? Some cities have that air: like at the next moment, anything could happen.
I’m still looking at all the hopeful faces in the window. A morbid thought then runs through my mind: I wonder how many of them are dead? As Ecclesiastes tells us, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” How many of us have done so, that whatever our hands found to do, to do it with all our might? The book does not go on to tell us that such noble effort will necessarily be rewarded; it follows to say, “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.” Yes, a cheerful little chapter.
How did I get here? A small, immovable question. Like all transcendent things, I can look at every piece of the puzzle and the way they all fit together, and it will still be a mystery. Or is it merely that it is as a part of Alice in Wonderland, a story cleverly turned inside out, and now it is of the weird? (I pretend to use the archaic meaning, touched with the modern interpretation: the weird was once one’s fate.) I have been nowhere, it would seem, between a before and a now. So what exactly does one do when he imagines that he has been to the platonic Land of Pure Forms? After all, the zone of zero is the only ideal that has any reality we can measure. (That, in itself, being only as useful as knowing that it must be raining somewhere: true, but a kind of rubber that never hits the road, like an eraser that’s more valuable than anything it might erase.) And I suppose I have been “here”, too, more than once — the only place I have never visited is that mythic place of “there”. Next door to cloud nine.
(I know the madness will never leave me, not completely. The memory of snakes is ingrained, in my genes, deeper. Darkness seems to carry itself in my mind, as if — if it were to dissipate, then none of me would be left, as if I were a shadow that had no real component to stretch from. So many times I have imagined that I am a doomed man, a damned man, a forsaken man, a guilty man, a lost man. I may never know what the truth of any of it is, and such is the way of the world. I have accustomed myself to the fierce uncertainty of it all. But there are these side moments, always coming and going like a sparrow were a moment, here and gone: a small, blue hope out the corner of my eye. Just enough to tell me that there is love in the world. Small vials of minding water in a desert of mindlessness.)
Am I still standing here?
I step away from the storefront like I am stepping away from a life. As if there were finality to it, as if there were meaning that I am imbuing to the moment, in deepness that I act. I am then struck by structure — that is all there is, architecture and me, the street going a distance and ending ambiguously in buildings and alleyways at arbitrary angles forked out of this street. But I know there will be people soon, not wanderers like me, those who have some fixed goal in their onward perambulation. They fascinate me, sometimes, their plain purpose so ineffable to me. Perhaps I will talk to one of them, and wonder if they understand that I am different?
The street view is washed in light. Everything is clear. The air is fresh, for a city. Where have I been? I seem to have blinked into existence fully grown, here in the shade of the standing city, and the memories in my mind are all fake, a simulation of a life implanted by a team of mad scientists. Down the street a woman has turned the corner and walks in my direction on the other side of the street. I am assuming that what she is wearing is season appropriate, and wonder if I myself am in some state of nudity that I have forgotten about. I look down on me, and then wonder why I picked these clothes there, vaguely groping into my memory to fumble about the some sort of matching algorithm I use to pick the proper colors from the clean pile of clothes that I’ve neglected to sort from my last wash. Proper enough, I suppose; I don’t recall being too fussy. I might guess these garments were the ones on top.
It is strange to think I am one of them: I am a person. Could it be, that no matter how different any of us are, we are only within fractions of being the same entity? After all, 99% of our genes are exactly the same as a chimpanzee’s; does our mental makeup fit this rule-of-thumb type commonality? Or are we like the snowflakes? For they are all made of the same stuff, if you think on it, water and floating particulates, yet how wildly divergent are their makeups, if we look at how they fill the small spaces they exist in. That even if we share the same biology, the patterns of our brains can be so incredibly individual, that we can truly scarce be thought of as being of a common species? Perhaps the answer lies in the middle, like many, many things. An answer in the big, boring bulge of the bell curve.
(In the buzzing of my mind there is business that actively achieves purposelessness. It is a faux nihilism, absurdity that has no deeper meaning. A billion neurons that each rolls a tiny boulder up a hill, to have it roll back down again: not sound, not fury, merely a swarm of senseless to and fro, to and fro, tossing around futile gestures. And that I realize that this is true makes it not one iota more substantive, for I know not why I so practice this flailing of the sensibilities. I am the ultimate test of free will, to choose not to choose until the whole paradigm collapses in on itself like a black hole of cognition. For in the buzzing of my mind there is a danger to anyone I let in, that they mistake the reality for the illusion, as if these theories go somewhere, and the randomness is merely a fog upon the road. But no. It truly makes no sense at all.)
The sky is both at once close and far. How the clouds do not care about any of the passers by, floating by like oblivious dreams. Though, even as I know this, I am still a bit lighter when I look up, and out at the centerless blue such a color I have never seen a faithful reproduction of, not by any human hand or eye. Even the photographs miss something of the magic, as if the mystery had been filtered out when the image came through the lens. We are none of us tall enough to understand, I think, what is above. We shuffle around, earthly specimens, as angels soar through the yonder. It is the source of all myth. Outside the cycle of pain and stupidity, celestial wonders routinely work their miracles, and life goes on indebted to the light that pours down. Which we never notice, because there is so much of the miraculous at hand.
And my hands have slipped into my pockets for some reason. Once I read that this was an indication that someone is hiding something. Perhaps I am hiding something from myself? I feel a coin in my pocket and pull it out; I bring it before my face, and sense a great mystery to what I hold my hand. Currency: this is what is current, this is carried along the current of buying and selling to who knows where. It is a thing, a created thing, small and self-contained, but useless without an elaborate context around it. It is a marker of an entire world. It shares a value of “thingness” with all other creations, great or small — the commonality almost lets one forget the multiplicity, and believe in the One from which all forms have come. But what value, this thinking? That (realization) and the quarter I stare at will buy me a gumball, if that.
(It is all vanity, and chasing after wind. It is all hesitation, and lack of any distinct purpose. It is all rushing into war, it is all inability to agree. It is all ending in fire and it is all ending in ice, and it is all ending in a whimper, and it is all ending in a thud, when the whole thing falls over lopsided onto its side. It is all taking the road less traveled, up until that road is the road everyone takes, and we all forget why we went in the first place. It is all the brokered peace that the subjects had no say in having, whose children go hungry waiting for a promise no one has any incentive in keeping. But it is all the beginning of a new day, every day, because we must never lose hope that things can change, that changes have happened on days just like today. It is all just the one day we have, after all, this thing called today, thousands of chances to get it right.)
I am suddenly overcome with inertia, an infinite weight that solidifies my limbs. Or is it something trying to warn me of what mayhap be on its way my direction? I carefully look from left to right, turning myself all the way around to spy the entire panorama: just buildings, a car that’s casually turning the corner, two people coming from one direction, one person from another, nothing anywhere that seems at all threatening. Is there some purpose to this paralysis, perhaps, that I am misconstruing? Cynically, that might be said to be the major impetus of much of human history: purpose misconstrued. But really, why am I not able to move, just now? And my heart, now, it starts to beat in a way that I can feel that it is there, in my chest. The adrenaline I can feel like I’ve just been injected with a chemical: I sense the widening of my pupils, the spring-loading of the muscles. My unconscious is preparing for something. Danger.
In my imagination a meteorite hurtles down from the heavens and blasts into the car I see, exploding gloriously in a heave of wreckage. In my imagination the street splits open as a giant worm roars out of the depths of the earth. In my imagination everyone pulls off their faces as masks, revealing the demon personages they had been all along. Fire breathing dragons everywhere. Angels and devils climbing out of the alleyways and fluttering down from the clouds. Great tsunamis surging out of the collective of sewers. Or that most terrible of fates, out of the beginning of time, before the beginning: nothing at all. The worst thing that could possibly happen is that nothing happens. Tragedies, of them you can say, at least it’s sad; when the world merely shrugs off all your days, as like unto copies no one even wanted to see the original of: no one cares.
Is it a(nother) cruel trick? Is this a fiendish imagination of the invisible angels, that I be frozen in fear without a cloud in the sky, without a worry in the horizon, without any hint of cataclysmic resolution? Am I a mute Cassandra, only able to know the future, not even to speak it to be disbelieved; and even then, that the instantaneous prophecy prove false, after all? Jeremiah complained to his God that He had made him like unto “a drunken man, a man full of wine” — so what has my God made me? I am a frozen man, a man stopped in time, who has never heard the voice from above assuage his madness. Surely the mercy from on high shall merely let me go, trouble me no more with the deeper thoughts, the thoughts too heavy to form into words. At least release me from the gravity, when nothing wicked this way comes.
And it is just then that the ground shakes violently, where I am thrown to my knees.
I remember when she rescued me. I often wondered why it is that we rely so heavily on chance when it comes to love. Perhaps this is how it proves its significance to us? Destiny, usually to prove itself to be true the second one tosses the notion of it out the door. I seem to recall an apocryphal moment, me awakening from some fitful sleep to her smiling face, suddenly above me from out of nowhere, a moment out of her time as professional angel. This never happened, of course — not like that.... It seems, after all is said and done, that we have no ultimate control of when or where or who we love, and perhaps this, genuinely, is a sign. That it is a greater thing than all of us. Unspeakably powerful, but also, unspeakably kind. And that, perhaps the intuition of the famous phrase: “God is love.”
You know what? I’ve seen too many movies. They make me want to remember splendid things, important things, as if they happened to me; they make me want to live a good life full of compassion and wonder, just like all those characters up there. They make me want to remember her like that, like she was one of the spirits pictured on the big screen, that she was larger than life. Somewhere I know she was small, though, with small hands like the rain, just like the poem tells it. She was very human. Not in the bad way do I depict her so, when I say that of what she was, even if there could be said that some of the bad was thrown in, too. Even in the movies can the main characters have flaws, I suppose. And the movies also make me a sucker for happy endings, so I’m expecting my own any time now. After which I can die. Heh.
Really, though, how many nights did we actually have? One? Three? The memory plays tricks on my psyche. But the thing that S. Morgenstern wrote about in that famous book of his (now a major motion picture!): a kiss so innocent and true that it put all other kisses to shame: we had one of those…. Or maybe it was only one of us. Memory plays no tricks with that little prodding; I know I was in love in her general direction, but she… well, not so much back. Romeo and Juliet only really had the one good night, but the feeling they had was returned in kind. So I would have to divide any time I had with her in half, and really, keep dividing it in half until it approached zero. That’s what happens when you have the diminishing return of unrequitedness. But at the time, nothing mattered. I was on a cloud, with the whole world at my fingertips. Those few days were perhaps the happiest I’ve ever been.
I don’t know what I’ve become like as far as women goes, these days. On one of my days where I was cleaned up, I saw a very attractive female while waiting for a plane at the airport. I was snatching glimpses of her discreetly, when to my surprise, she started giving me the eye back. Mostly I was shy and I turned away from her looking, but when I caught some significant eye contact, there was a feeling in the pit of my stomach like it were swallowing itself, and traces of an anxiety attack in my lungs. Needless to say, I did no such thing as approach her, get within 10 feet of her. I don’t know if I regret not doing so; I have this theory of what is meant to be, and if the conditions could not be overcome somehow, perhaps they were meant to be as things happened: if I were meant to meet her, closer than a roomaway gaze, maybe there would have been more impetus. Maybe. Useless to think any further about it.
But all those years ago, when the hormones were still driving me, I was always looking for that angle of attack. To crash and burn all those many times for the few where I could strike home. Back when I was still swimming in the currents of the unpossessed, before any sort of madness had claim to my being. And there was her, the sweet eclectic elf, when I knew so much more than I do now, when I thought I knew it all, even as I claimed to be seeking the very nature of my own self. But truly, if I knew love, I may not have been that far off in my braggadocio. Maybe to know less is to know more, if one is very careful, or very lucky. Myself, I think not the fates were so kind as to leave me in blissful ignorance. Life did not end the night when I had that magical kiss of story and song. What would the tragedy be, I casually wonder, that it continued, or really, if it had ended, just then?
(Is it useful to think in conditional tense? The demon that contends with my thought makes me answer my own questions. Perhaps there is a blessing in that, too. I remember the time, vaguely, when I was so sure of my every action, or at least I pretended to be. And we are what we pretend to be, according to Vonnegut. But even then, was I lost? To decisively go into dead end after dead end — this gets us back to where we started, too. One must think that to experience has some value, or else animals seem to have little worth besides being walking meat; to go, then, in circles lets us know how it is that man must sometimes learn. And the demon that contends with my thought makes me understand what it is to struggle, sometimes to win, sometimes to lose. It may be the seed of its own destruction, evil, is that it is a zero-sum game, and loses fractions at each step in the friction.)
And I wonder if I am making this all up, somewhere confused with memory, of the day she saved me. I seem to recall that I was drunk one night, especially drunk. I was depressed for some reason (for which probably would mean very little to me now), and it was college. So it was off to a fraternity party of some random greek letter combination, and lots and lots of beer. Perhaps there were shots of some stronger stuff; the night was pretty much a lost one. When I woke up, on one of the couches in the living room, there she was, hovering above me. A bit of the halo of morning light around her, that being probably caused by the fact that I was still buzzed from the night before. She said that they had been worried about me, and she had volunteered to see if I stopped breathing at any point, or began to choke on my own vomit, or tried to have sex with a power outlet. She looked tired. She was so beautiful…. Or maybe all of that’s fake, a dream I forgot was a dream.
Sometimes I think that I am tired of these dreams. I get lost in some of them, and some of them get lost in me. It is not a wall that God has where all the good poetry and equations are written; what He has is a well wet with thought, from which some may drink, and into which some have drowned. If you’ve ever had a taste, you would know what a temptation it is to jump in, to swim in it, to be one with the pure flow. But it is quite another thing when you’re choking on it, have it coming out of your nose, unable to decide what is real and what is the fantasia that long has swum in those depths. Some of the dreams I recall are not dreams, and they have happened to me in real life, however far removed I have located myself from such solidities. Some of my memories are dreams awoke in secret, threaded themselves into my waking timeline. And I fear I shall never sort them out, know for sure what is life, and what is the monster.
And if I think about it thoroughly, maybe she didn’t save me, after all. That is only how I desire to remember, an homage to her pretty face. True, she had kept watch over me, but all I had needed was a sound night’s sleep; no demons did she excorcise, no poisons did she suck out of me. It was just the picture of her face, when I awoke: so angelic, almost as I imagine halos to be worn did she wear the light of that morning. I ascribed everything to what struck me, just then, created a myth out of a photograph in time. And the three days that we had, that kiss that still haunts me — the heart can craft such a story when it is taken by beauty. But still, I will never truly shake it all off, the memory of that light. However much I decide it was ordinary, it will fill a unique hole in the center of my soul.
The danger is in identifying the archetype within the vision of a solid being. We must simplify experience if we ever hope to comprehend anything that happens to us, but it is a matter of time and chance what parts we whittle away to fit the slots of our own particular logic. We often begin to mistake the model for the reality, for we like to think we understand the world around us. And when what is unexpected happens, the mind tries to match it against known patterns, and failing that, strange things may come into vision — sometimes things we didn’t know were important to us, just what comes loose when shook hard enough. Ultimately, we will never lose the ability to surprise ourselves.
For thoughts in a crisis define the character underneath the casual façade.
This is the part of the movie where the hand held camera depicts the mad coagulation of chaos in the streets. People trying to run — from what? to what? — unable to get enough footing to stand straight… glass breaking overhead, and at eye level, elsewhere, unable to pinpoint exactly where, because of the great rumble from below throwing low sound in every direction… I expected more screaming, but everyone is just trying in shock to absorb what is suddenly happening to their world at large… the ground shouldn’t feel this unstable, as if it were made all of ions breaking apart all at once… and what do I do, thrown to my knees? My first impulse is to clasp my hands together… and pray. Because this is not something I can do anything about, something this large, except to call on that which is larger. I pray that everything still, and that everyone could be safe.
There comes over me a strange feeling, even through all the shaking, as if a stillness penetrated all movement, all cacophony. For one moment I forget completely where I am, even that I am a body, fragile, on this earth. For several seconds it is as if I have entered a vision, am aware of a sense of infinity, and light, and love in cosmic scales. And I have gone nowhere, but I then perceive myself as if returning to mortality, back to the solidities of our world at large, the world we share. I know not if I have been gone a year or a second. But as I ground, I feel the earthquake dissipate, its energy spending its last fewest ergs, the peace returning beneath me. I am crouched prostrate on the pavement, my hands clasped, where last I was on this planet: praying. The prayer answered.
As I rise, opening my eyes, it is like entering a dreamtime. I scan and all down the street are the noises of car alarms that have all been set off and are honking in each their own obnoxious rhythm. There are several people around me and down the way; they are picking themselves from the ground, a couple of them bloody — as I walk past them, I feel pieces of glass crunching under my shoes, the cause of what looks to be any injury. None of the buildings seem to have been rent apart or collapsed in the quake, but I wonder if it is that case everywhere in the city, or if some of the structures have not been as lucky. The world is somehow different. Is it that not am I now dreaming strangely, but that what was going on before was the dream, and I am thus waking to face the world as it is? What has changed?
Is it now as if a beast has been let loose in the world, the quake the breaking of its bonds, deep in the earth? It is as if all the colors are different. As if someone has added meaning behind all of them. Everything strikes me paradoxically as both surreal and somehow more real than it was before the great heaving. Myself, I am bewildered. As if I had had purpose before, and now it has left me — this is illusion, I am aware at some level, that no such purpose existed. Is it so big a change, this me, to the me that preceded the prayer? And yet I look to find some kind of bearing, and before… I felt like I needed not such a thing as direction to progress. I feel something is missing, now.
I am a question mark, looking for a question. As I walk, all the world before me now becomes as the gray of oblivion, all my sensation becomes numb like sleep; I walk on and on, keeping without falter the onward progression of this self, and I now am unable to discern anything of what I come upon nor remember what I pass by. The day does not care, and hours tick on, I am sure. What planes of existence I may have crossed escapes me, the mystery not only being that the null takes over, but how I keep going on when this slice of the universal experience happens for everyone else in the world, and not for me. For I have become a living ghost, and time has no meaning when in this sleep that does not dream. When traveling in the underworld that was before there was a heaven and a hell.
Then, slowly, focus. But it is night, and I can make the shape of buildings: a skyline across the starry sky. It is a familiar scene, and I realize that I am looking out my apartment window, out into the city. Considerable time must have passed, though I am relatively certain that it is not the next day yet. Where have I been? What have I done, but walk? The light is not even on, and it is merely moonlight streaming in that has any glow. I go to the lamp, and see that it has tipped over; I prop it up and turn the switch. Along the shelves across my walls, my various figurines have been toppled by the shaking this morning, some having fallen completely off, and are on the floor. Even the piles of my clothes seem to have shifted. Everything changes.
In the corner of my eye, I spy something new on the floor. It is an envelope that must have been slipped under my door. I take and open it, reading a notice, that if I have not paid my rent by such and such a date, I will have to vacate the premises. The meaning of it doesn’t hit me for a moment, like I am reading the notes of some musical score, that speaks through the tones something important and mysterious. Then slowly the question creeps up into my foreconscious: what is today’s date? And something like a paranoia strikes my sinus: have I missed noticing this note for any length of days, now? Part of me understands what all this may mean, but more than half is thinking that the world is going to kick me out of it, and that should be an interesting experience. I drop the note. Maybe I’ve even read it before, and forgot?
I sometimes think that crises are invented just to bring out what we fear ourselves to be. Sometimes that is the hero. I have also noticed that in times of great sadness or great happiness, we care not about the scenery. It is only when we are caught in a grinding repetition of days upon days, where we feel neither high nor low, that we desire the scenery to change. A disaster is one of the divine answers to this call: it is a (dramatic) change in scenery, and we didn’t even have to go anywhere to get it. I have another, related thought: Is the world going to kick me out, sometime soon? This should be interesting, because I always have wondered what is out there, beyond the solid things. It would be a change in scenery worthy of an angel’s travels. What would that make me?
Perhaps all these occurrences nowabout is telling me something I’ve suspected at strange moments, notions of which I’ve usually flicked aside. Something is happening in the Dreaming. Time is distorting and giving birth to monsters, the unseen structure of existence revealing itself stranger than anyone ever supposed. In the interpretation of reality, reality is being created. And the imaginary is breaching the borders of this world (though this has been going on for as long as man has invented anything). What shall we make of these strange fires, which burn and do not consume that which it burns? What can we do about the Other place, where all laws break down, where governed purely by faith, magic never obsolesced?
Perhaps the revolution will be televised? Something tells me to turn on the tube, and I flip randomly, landing on a History Channel show about the Manhattan Project. It is that famous interview with Oppenheimer himself, and there we have it, as the luminescent screen tells me who it is that is seeking me: “...Death, destroyer of worlds…” These words stand out, seemingly to glow in sound, even though it is only part of a phrase the show is relaying. The palimpsest of the notification wires itself into my imagination’s sounding board, the Dreaming is calling out to the shock troops and I have been recruited. Could it be as his role as the fourth horseman of the apocalypse? For Death does not often reveal himself in form….
And suddenly, the future becomes chaos.
I have a dream that I live in a dystopia, whose beginning has been long forgotten and which seems to continue to eternity. I am the secret leader of the resistance, a fact that I do not even let myself in on unless absolutely necessary, for They can read minds, and often do. I am organizing a mass uprising, intricate in its complexity, its scheme — the plan of which grew even through several generations of leaders, the unfinished version I inherited from my predecessor. On the night that everything is to unfold, I see lit up on a large screen where in the world the revolution is beginning. Then the door breaks down, and it is the forces of authority — but as I am overrun, I realize that I am not the real leader, only a diversion, that I am meant to get caught…
I wake up, and the world is different. Though the question that comes to mind is a familiar one, and that is an unfortunate thing. Where am I? There is white everywhere. The walls are white, the bed I’m in is covered in white sheets with a white pillow, the curtain, partially open, is also white. There is a window behind where the curtain is closed, which I can tell by the sunlight streaming in, lighting up rectangle patterns bouncing on the folds of the curtain. I have never been here before, or have I? Is it one of those memories where you can’t remember if it really happened or if it was merely part of a dream? I think I must investigate these present surroundings…
This must indeed be a strange place. Magic has passed through here, I can smell its smoky traces. How have I been folded into these alternate patterns? Vague memories pass through my mind’s eye, as if I have haunted these environs sometime in the recesses of my past, as if these are places where wanderers such as I go when… there is no where else to go… or is there? The white door of the room is not locked, and I open it. White halls, white lights overhead. The tiles below I suppose have speckles of pattern on them. Other doors along the hall, some of them open. And there are people standing in some of the doorways. They are dressed in blue and white inconspicuous patterns, all of them. And looking down at myself, so am I. I am one of them.
And then there are the other people, people enclosed behind a white counter, framed like a small fortification, and they are dressed in white as like the walls. They must belong here. They must hold the keys. I shouldn’t stare. Down the hall there is a large commons-like space, where there is a large TV and some people dressed like me are sitting, mostly with vague interest to whatever is playing or around them in general. There is a table where someone is drawing something. There is a cabinet with various board games stacked within it. This is the end of the line, I find, for the doors that lead elsewhere besides this is locked, at least on this extremity. Except for the TV, nothing is really making a sound.
[. . .to continue. . .]
John H. Doe
© 31 July 2007 – present