Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Fire in my Spine

To die, to sleep – to sleep, perchance to dream… - Shakespeare’s Hamlet

I woke up with daggers in me, and the breath choking out of me like cigarette smoke from a swimmer’s fresh lungs. The fire in my spine had turned to frozen marrow, and freezing needles slithered up my veins, spidering under my shadowy eyelashes, spiking, sparking them open.

Just a nightmare. Perchance a nightmare. And in this detailed fantasy were imbedded flashbacks. My own mind having invented a Dumb Show for me to behold (as Hamlet did to gauge the reaction of the possible murderer of his father).

But the murderer here is me, I see. You see, I murdered me.

The flashbacks were of some kind of serious surgery. Surgery to my spine. In my life in this netherworld of campuses and dirt roads and fashioned with unfathomable friends and unknowable partners, I kept flashing back to the surgery. That I’d had major operations on my spine. The spine is a symbol, after all, of one’s resolve, one’s very self, one’s core. It may be an even deeper, fleshier, more realistic symbol than the soul (for what is the soul other than the myth of the self). And what is the spine other than the core – both flesh and bone, feeling and spirit.

I was troubled in these dreams (for they seem layered, stacked, more than one unraveling out of the other) as my thoughts seem to do as I improperly shutdown – bed down – for the night.

And in my dreams I saw them there, all of them, faces I knew well. There were friends and females but impregnable, and subtle in their evasion, and so troubled me. And among all of these was no familiar face of family. And though they were my friends I began to sniff something beneath their polite exchanges, and their offish remarks. I found discolor under their made up color (for me). It mixed me up, and I began to suspect that I was an outsider in the world. An outsider in a world pretending to embrace me. I was in a world that pretended to understand me, pretended to be real, and this knowledge began to haunt me.

I was on a road, rushing, bursting through electrified gates on dirt roads. There were lies. It is dim, the details. But the road brought me back to a campus, and I discovered someone I knew well strolling out of an unnamed but well known building. A brick tower about 5 stories tall. And upon seeing me this friend’s countenance showed: uh oh, and in measured strides attempted to pretend the building behind him had nothing to do with his movements.

I seized these truth filled impulses, and dashed past/up the tower. Behind me he screamed in abject terror, and utter horror. The screams confirmed my convictions even before I got there.

And once I arrived

on the uppermost floor

the walls swept up,

and the floor sank down before me.

I saw my whole life

in newspaper clippings

on the boards.

I saw the operating table where my spinal flashbacks found their source. I realized why I had no memories of my youth, and why my troubled unnatural existence affected those around me.

I saw in an instant my truth: I am an experiment. I am not a real person but an agglomeration of organs. My core isn’t even my own. I have no father or mother. I am artificial (not real). Who am I? I don’t belong and all betray me. The fire in my spine was merely an electric buzz scissored into my ribs. Am I even alive? Do I even exist? And if so, what right do I have to serve or observe a God, or a maker? All this and then to awaken in a room with ice in my spine.

…in my spine.

The dream has Pinocchio overtones. Wanting to belong but sensing the impossibility of it. There is confusion and horrible destruction and manipulation of the flesh. This is perhaps the shock of teaching at a school full of people who I don’t resemble. Then there is the sense of betrayal after the honesty of Korea. Here is a culture of dishonesty, and a sense of the living death…screaming…arguing…straining against the rope…drowning…burning…aging…running up stairs and then finally awakening to who we are vis a vis ourselves/each other. We are all outsiders, and the core is cold. The question is, is it human? Are we so artificial to be beyond human?

As disempowered Pinocchios (or is it just me) we want to be remembered when we are buried. And what about in life? Do we want the seconds of it, the moments, to be meaningful? How to accomplish that alone? Do we listen to the sound of our own hearts, feel our own soft, warm buttered breath on our hands in the morning? Do the hairs on our forearms move in the breeze and fill with the warm winter sun?

The dirt roads have gates that are electrified, and our salty tissues are moving along them at breakneck speed. There is a distrust of the world and of man’s genuineness as a part of nature. I feel that. That’s the dirt road and electrified fences around them. The spying. The lies and deception.

Everything is not real. All is artificial. Such a world cannot last. It is a world with no spine. Nothing to hold Pinocchio up. No strings. Just the moon and a little girl looking quietly up to it and seeing her father there and saying, “He’s up there, all alone. In the moon.”

Make you to ravel all this matter out

That I essentially am not in madness

But mad in craft – Shakespeare’s Hamlet

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