Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Persistence of Memory

So what more is there to say? Is there any insight that remains unseen after these now six years? Undiscovered, like some cryptobeast, some hide-n-seek bigfoot forever lurking in the periphery? Is the confusion of those first few hours to persist, grafted forever to our souls like the scars of the Fall from grace? Are we to exist in a state of perpetual befuddlement or indecision?

Of course not. Every grain of understanding we will ever achieve has been extracted from the rubble, sifted from the ashes. We have arrived, by now, at the position our character has ordained. Some of us just want peace. Some of us just want war. Some walk a middle way, and all of us partake in some degree of all of this. But we find ourselves on the ground we occupy. We might believe it was our fault: our arrogance and indifference to justice called down the wrath of the skies. We might call it the evil of the world, that attacks us because we are in it but do not honor it: we are not saints, but we are good. We might play the subtle game, the fairminded game, ever so nuanced don't you know, where nobody wins or loses but everyone has a reason for moving. Ah, we're all so intelligent. We have not lived entirely unexamined lives, as individuals and as a nation. We know at least our outlines, if not our substance.

Dreams go unremembered, fled from our heads upon waking. But surely we have written this dream down, burned it into our long-term memory? It is so late in the day, now. Far too late to recover the passion of that surreal tumult -- a passion that should have transformed us as an awakening under a bodhi tree would awaken us. If it didn't then, it never will. Too late to find the resolve now that those first hours and days should have taught.

Positions in the matter are hardened, they must be. We are, each of us, confirmed in our opinions. If not, then there is no event that has any meaning, either inherent or imposed. Clearly not the case. Even if the world is as chaotic as it sometimes seems, we carry within ourselves the capacity to impose order, even if it is an order of our own personal geometry, with axioms unknown to anyone else. Even such subjective organization has the merit of providing a context. We exercise this ability to invent meaning -- to find shapes in clouds -- so that we might place one foot before the other. We do this with national atrocities, as well as with dreams.

It is not insight that eludes us, then, like some unknown skulking and giant primate. Insight is just an answer to a problem, a rational problem we've been considering. My oh my, what is the nature of this cryptozoological entity? Ho hum, such an interesting scientific quest I'm on, that I might expand the bounds of human understanding. No. Such academic insight will do none of us any good. Because the creature in the shadows, though real, is not merely unknown. It is a monster. We must record its nature in a fantastical bestiary, not some dry taxonomical journal. Along with the basilisk and cockatrice, we find the islamist: fully human, on the outside. Possessed by the spirit of death.

There is, it seems, magic. Dreams are real, and persist even if they are not remembered. More than one set of laws governs the universe, and the shadowland that occupies the same space as the world of sunlight can swallow flesh as completely as any sarcophagus of limestone. Yes, there is a monster. And whether or not we believe in it, it knows where we are and has a thirst for blood.

Do you have children? Look to them. Because there are monsters. If there's a rational question involved anywhere in this, that's all the insight we need. Monsters. If there is some dream that needs to be remembered, the only important point is that it has monsters in it. Oh, here's an insight: some dreams are nightmares. So regardless of where we have slumbered -- beneath the tangled boughs of a bodhi tree, or folded in the arms of a loved one, or quaking and curled in a corner -- it would be wisdom to wake up.

Monsters are for killing.



Unquiet said...

What do I say? Wonderful. I'll be visiting here again.

Jack H said...

Thanks. It falls as sweet rain on parched land.

This odd little piece was an exercise in mood and vagueness, but it can't all be pounding on a drum, eh?

Feel free to jump around in the archives. I'm always a little mournful at the thought of my babies being neglected. I love all my children.



MuscleDaddy said...

Hey Jack,

That first line about 'sweet rain on parched land' reminded me of something I read a long time ago

- I think I can still get it right...

"In the end, he was like lightning in autumn - a promise of rain that would fall, too late and unheeded, of fields already bare."

For nothing - it just came back to me so strongly that I had to let it out.

- MuscleDaddy

Jack H said...

Harmonies and counterpoints: