Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The First Gate of the Underworld

Having spent over a year in forgiveness, patience, and being gentle with myself, I have started to ask myself the harder questions.  Little by little I have rebuilt and art practice, and yet, I am terrified to take on the big projects, the scary dreams.  I am afraid to raise the stakes.  I am afraid of the terrible purpose that guides me that compels me to paint and write and find out what remains after the fear has passed. 

What remains looks something like this.  Would you read a book written in such a way?

Madness.  It isn’t alluring in it’s macabre strangeness.  It is no gothic, romantic prison.  Madness is a wretched oubliette with no center of gravity, no compass, and no map.

Losing your mind, however, is seductive.  What is titillating and different, dangerous is captivating.  But it bend you, little by little, warping your mind out of shape, pushing you further and further away from the normal safe reality you once trusted and depended on.  With pain, excitement, and fear, you lose yourself step by step in the unfamiliar, the strange, dark forest.  The curious abnormalities push you further away from your solar center and further towards the outer reaches of your reality.  You shift, infinitesimally, moment and moment, day by day, until you grow accustomed to the eccentricities and the peculiarities.  Month by month polar north shifts until unperceivably, the world has flipped upside down upon its axis.  You don’t feel the earth turning, do you?

There you find the uncontrollable forces of the Old Gods.  There, in the hopeless solitude of maladaptation, you find Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto.  There you drown in the ocean’s salty tears of uncontrollable emotion, the riptide and tsunami of outer poles of melancholy and mania.  You think you have stretched to the outer limits of heaven, and, in fact you have.  But here there is no light and beneficent bearded father with angels in unending exultation.  Instead, as if by bait and switch, here in the edges at the beginning of time, you meet Oranos, the monstrous Titan father who devours his children.  Feeling betrayed in your shredded, masticated state, you sink deeper, into the cold waters of isolation and despair.  Here you meet, the terrible, the notorious, Lord of the dead.  You meet the abductor, the rapist, the end.  Here stands Hades, God of the Underworld.

Once having crossed the river Styx there is no turning back.  You have taken the oath, drank the draught of life and death.  By your will alone, you stepped on the ferryman's boat.  Here, in the underworld, your initiation begins . . . begins with death. 

1 comment:

  1. I would read a book written in this way ... mostly.

    These days I'm often very careful about reading anything lengthy that speaks in the second person. I don't want to take your words as instructions to me, or descriptions of me -- what if they're not? But as I read "feeling betrayed ... you sink deeper" I find myself imagining that this is the only experience I could have in meeting Oranos. But what if I eventually venture there, and my experience is different?

    So, as a reader, I'm cautious with the form "you do, you feel, you see" etc. Even more cautious in print and in audio than I am in conversation, where, if someone does it too much, I will inevitably say something like 'please don't put your experience on me.'

    As an editor, though, I have a comment. If this comes across as unsolicited advice I hope you will feel free to consign it to the circular file (or its equivalent in cyberspace). I wonder, as an editor, if your own experience of writing this book might be even deeper if you wrote in the first person.

    "Instead, as if by bait and switch, here in the edges at the beginning of time, I meet Oranos, the monstrous Titan father who devours his children. Feeling betrayed ... I sink deeper ..."

    Or perhaps you mean to be leading us readers in having this experience?

    So, anyway, I'm intrigued. You're onto something valuable and I would read this book. I hope you continue with it.