We had been traveling. Currently, we resided in a transitory nest within the city. The faces of my companions were fluid in space-time. They changed; I changed.
An average day it was certainly not. Something stirred in the skies. We all knew it intuitively and instinctively though we talked not about The Unseen.
The decision to go to the Ocean at The End of the World was unanimous. I do not remember how we traveled, but it had wheels. We arrived as the skies spun and changed colors.
A storm is brewing, someone seemed to say.
There were, at least, five of us, and, at most, ten of us. Either (/any) way, the numbers were split evenly so each person had a “counterpart” of the same gender. Mine was blonde and taller and less skilled than I was. She seemed to pop into existence as my feet hit the sand. Her hologram wavered with the clouds in the sky. Spirals formed on the horizon, indications of merging points and vertexes. The edges of The World became dark. All five (ten) of us panned outward to observe the land from a bird’s-eye (or space-eye) view. The Pattern: Shadows coming from all angles with a perfect circle of Light that was quickly diminishing. And who should happen to be in the center of that Circle of Light but the five (ten) of us.
We drew our Eyes back into ourselves and each assumed our stations. I sat, lotus-style, at the Water’s Edge. My counterpart was fastened onto me with a silver string around her waist. She sat in my lap, over my crossed legs, facing the watery horizon. It was my charge and my responsibility to keep her safe, to stabilize her form through the journey. I instructed her to close her eyes, to breathe as normally as possible. “You must stay with me; pull the c(h)ord tight. If you ever feel you are losing yourself, locate the c(h)ord and my body. Re-orient with me as quickly as possible.”
As the shadows closed-in, the others instructed their counterparts in the same manner. I felt the indigo rise to my eyes and brow as the skies darkened rapidly. I closed my physical eyes as my Third Eye burned bright violet in the Dark. The circle became a pinhole and then…
Nothing at all.
We were traveling (or not?), her/I and the Others. I felt her temptation to open her eyes, and I strongly transmitted “Don’t.” The blackness swarmed in and through what may have been our bodies. There were noises that may have been drums or shrieks, harps or hail, bells or singing, sonication or pressurization. There were sensations of gossamer webs, crackling embers, soft glow, a school of fish, amniotic fluid, riptides, needles, gravel, fine silk and wind tunnels. A kaleidoscope of taste-color crashed upon our faces and re-arranged our flesh. I kept the center, held it as a meditation of a grain of sand in a sandstorm. She remained still with me and followed where my mind willed her.
And with no warning whatsoever, the World returned. We were sitting on the Beach at The Edge. Ten dissolved to five, and the silver c(h)ords returned to our spinal columns as the violet gave way to indigo and, eventually, the flesh of our brows. The sky was bright blue with puffs of gleeful white clouds. Waves kissed our feet as we rose in synchrony. We returned to our vehicle and sped off.
I found myself at a retail warehouse – some strange mix of Bed, Bath & Beyond and Best Buy. At first, I could not distinguish myself from some of the shoppers I saw: the newly-wed couple, the lone intellectual, the overly enthusiastic child, the exhausted mother, the care-free bachelor, and the malcontent teenagers. They were all there, and I grappled to figure out who I was this time around. Or was I the disembodied Watcher again?
No. The Salesman could see me. As I found my body and my orientation, I felt his eyes already on me, as if he had been watching since the second I entered this dreamscape. He was an attractive man of somewhere around 30 years. His skin tone and hair color hinted at a lineage descended from desert-faring people. Immobile he stood, with his hands held behind his back while his eyes interrogated my presence. Eyes just like a gun, with all the world in his cross-hairs; he was not of this world common to the shoppers. But, then again, neither was I so it seemed.
As shoppers approached him with questions, he morphed into a dozen different people. Each one was tailored to the customer’s tastes, and he always got the sale. I watched through the newly-wed couples’ eyes as he saw an attractive young woman addressing the novelty and fun found in the item while she saw a warm, mild-mannered man appealing to her sensibility and frugality. He herded them from one aisle to another and finally, to the checkout. In my examination of the Salesman, I ignored the customers as much as they seemed not to see me.
Outside the warehouse was an unremarkable desert that felt like a hole in the world. I could hear and feel the wind, but strangely, it seemed not to move anywhere: no origin and no destination. The Salesman appeared behind me, and assumed the same stance as before. His eyes spun through several colors and shapes. We stood in silence, glaring at each other. Neither of us were looking for answers or explanations; we seemed beyond the point of interrogation, now into the phase of silent accusations. Was I the Accused or the Accuser? Did (does) it, would (will) it, should (who cares about “shoulding” anyway) it really matter?
Nothing happened in the desert. We eventually walked off in the same direction, not together, but not completely apart from one another.
We entered the old house turned base. Those we knew were inside doing whatever it is they do. It was something important to them, some political activist activity or some kind of “rebellion.” It was of little importance to both the Salesman and myself, though, everyone else seemed unaware of our disinterest. They spoke to us as if we were thick as thieves and blood brothers. Perhaps that is how they saw us. Truth be told, the Salesman and I were far “closer” in those ways than either of us with any of them. They were of the world of shoppers; that very great fact immediately places galaxies between us. Whereas the Salesman and I- we were two of a Kind.
The activists continued on with their activities, speaking nonsense words to us. We sat in opposing chairs and communicated via eyes. I knew my eyes were much like his own. The flickers of information and subtle changes went unrecognized by those of this world; our eye changes were above (or below) and beyond their perception range. The activists probably were consciously unaware of the effects of our exchange, but within minutes, the base became silent and still. No one asked aloud if anything was wrong, but they gradually gathered close to us. Some sat behind the Salesman and some sat behind me.
Stories were told through the movement of gas molecules, but no one spoke a word. Images of the desert were transmitted and imprinted in the air. There was a boy that looked very much like the Salesman, only he was about fifteen years his junior and of the world of shoppers. He was not as quick, clever or confident as the Salesman (his idol and role model), but he would never admit these things to anyone except in prostration to the Salesman.
This boy set out into the desert on a mission. My side did not know his mission, but we had hints about his mindset. He carried a messenger bag full of unknowns. It felt like weapons that lacked conviction, and I knew the boy lacked expertise. Perhaps a gun with blanks or perhaps a knife he would wield unconvincingly. Images were choppy, like a reel that has been edited or spliced. In the desert he found some men and he found some women. He passed by the men, making eye contact but no threats. With the women, he would attempt flirtation. The ones that returned the flirtation made him sweat. If they giggled, he would sweat some more. If he construed the giggling for ridicule, out came the gun. He would command them to kneel and place their hands behind their head. Many would cry and beg for mercy, which would empty out his eyes while searchlights flooded his mind. He prayed for the Salesman to guide him, constructing His image in his mind. Then the Salesman slipped into his body. During this time, the boy had no recollection of the actions taken. He would return to himself as the women walked away, unharmed, without a care and sometimes even in high spirits. He would torture himself with attempts to remember the details, but the Salesman requested that he be content without the memories.
This cycle repeated many times on many days of many months to years. Before grabbing the gun and turning it on a woman, the boy told himself that he would go through the motions himself. Whatever it was he was doing, he would be the one to do it. He would remember. The Salesman would take pity on his condition and allow him. Or else he would rebel against the Salesman and reclaim his body and mind. But time and time again, the Salesman would appear in his mind, calm the boy and disarm him. The boy would retreat and feel safe and warm as he drifted to sleep.
There was one time when the boy awoke while he was still holding a gun to a woman. He had recollection of him/the Salesman ordering the woman to praise aloud Ha-Li (THE Godform). This particular woman refused; she was the first to do so. The boy panicked. He consciousness fled in and out. The name of Ha-Li was used in vain and blasphemed. Were there gunshots? It was difficult to know. Suddenly, the woman disappeared from the images. The boy walked back to the base like a zombie in sweat-soaked clothes and an empty messenger bag.
His body tumbled into the room, startling those immersed in the mind-movie-story. Both the Salesman and I watched him; neither of us moved from our chairs. He shouted at both of us- words of hatred, pain, remorse, renunciation, and accusation that bled from disillusionment and delusions. He waved a key in the air in a triumphant defiance that neither of us quite understood. He said he would enter The Room of God, and that neither of us could stop him or dissuade him. We could not go with him, he stated; he proclaimed that he knew we were of the Damned. If we were of his world, perhaps we would fear for him or attempt to stop him from opening that door with the silly key he waved around.
The door was a plain one with chipped white paint and an old handle that rusted over a bit. It was on one wall of the house/base. Nothing else was kept on this wall; the wall had a way of rejecting wall hangings. It broke mirrors and absorbed any ink or paint so it was always a bare, plain, old, white wall. From the outside of the house, there looked to be a sun room on the other side of the door. It was constructed of white boards and columns that held the unbreakable glass in place. We could see the other side of the door through the glass from the outside. Nothing was in the room, which was all the better considering anything under glass in hot dessert sun would bake.
The boy took off his shirt and went into one of the bedrooms to change into a new pair of pants and a gray, zip-up hoodie that he left open. The Salesman and I saw him in white robes in flashes as he moved from the bedroom to the door. He shouted some more nonsense and then grandly unlocked the door. The activists were shocked that they key worked. They backed away. It seemed that even the boy was shocked that he had found the one, magical, working key. He was awestruck and regarded the inside of the room with much trepidation. We smelled the fear wick off him and heard his heart beat like a jackhammer. He molded his face to something he thought to be impressive and victorious as he turned to the activists in his sorry facade.
He lifted his foot to step inside and no sooner than he made the motion did the room respond by sucking him in as if he had opened a vacuum. The activists did not see this, though. To them, he had merely stepped inside as light spilled at his feet, and the door clicked shut behind him.
The Salesman and I met him inside, as one merged entity, through projection, as the flesh remained outside the door, and half of our minds entertained the activists’ questions. We questioned him on how it felt to be in The Room of God. He was unregulated. His sense of time and self kept fragmenting and reconstituting in what may be considered fractions of seconds. His articulation fell away from him as symbols and words ceased to make sense. He paced and bounced around the room while simultaneously melting or solidifying into what might be described as “the floor.” His spirit was in agony as he struggled against dissolution. Two simultaneous visions: one of the bare, white room and one of Space, phased in and out for him. They collided and melted into each other. He could not make sense or hold onto to either.
The activists had ran outside to find out whether they could see him in the room or not. Some were shocked to see that he wasn’t there at all, while others were saddened or terrified to see him in such a degraded, raging or self-mutilating state. They fought over the reality.
“He’s dead in the corner!”
“What?! No, he isn’t. He’s inside beating his hands to a pulp against the wall.”
“What are you talking about? I don’t see him.”
“You don’t see him because he’s not there in the room at all.”
“What are you, blind? He’s catatonic and drooling on himself.”
“Oh, I thought he was just asleep.”
“Where? I still don’t see him.”
“Maybe he’s hiding?”
“He’ll be cooked to death in there…”
In any vision, they all agreed on one thing: It must have been the wrong key.
This post is inspired greatly by the movie, Ink, which I highly recommend (thank you, Kiowa and Jamin Winans). While this is not really a review, it is more of an expansion or exposition on the archetypes presented in the film. When I initially wrote the piece, I was unsure whether to use all the specific names of the archetypes that the film gave or to use my own. I decided for this post to keep the names of the archetypes, as presented in the film, intact. Some of the archetypes are more general and explicit, such as ‘Storytellers’ and ‘Pathfinders,’ though both are apt and portrayed in a different light than what I am accustomed to seeing. I find that there are some commonalities between Clive Barker’s cenobites and Ink‘s Incubi. Any of you familiar with the Hellraiser series will see why if you watch the film. There are no spoilers in the text below, just my observations and insights about the archetypes (plus one of my own to add to the mix that the film illustrates but does not name) in addition to the film’s explicitly stated characteristics. I rather enjoy Ink‘s revamping of some common archetypes and the interesting portrayal of others.
The Incubi exist to draw others into their nightmarish world. They care not for others. They destroy dreams, love, hope, inspiration and aspirations in favor of a bleak ‘reality’ of torment to which they desensitize themselves in order to exist. Storytellers regard them as black holes. Storytellers deliver tales of heroism, greatness, love, salvation and redemption. They put forth the concepts of manifested faith, accessible Archetypes, the power of Myth and the grace of Love.
The Storytellers are liars, planting seeds of idealism, love and a world with light. At least this is how the Incubi see it. The Storytellers replace pain and fear with false hope and childish aspirations. The Incubi would never do such a thing; they will present the Truth as it is: cold, slicing, agonizing, uncaring and barren. They, themselves, have become numb to such nightmares so they may carry the Truth of their nightmares to others. They seek to stamp out the encouragement and guidance of the Storytellers.
While some humans regard the Incubi as demons or similar ‘evil spirits,’ other humans regard them as necessary teachers and the keepers of ‘the brutal truth.’ While some humans regard the Storytellers as a kind of guardian angels or similar ‘benevolent spirits,’ other humans regard them as false messiahs and seeders of ‘tall tales.’
One cannot be both Storyteller and Inubi, but one can choose to be neither, either entering as a Pathfinder, a Drifter, or a Force of Nature. A Drifter is caught between the pull of Storyteller verses Incubi. They are able to see potential and possibility, but they are without sufficient belief in the visions, so they cannot pass on stories to others. They accept and wallow in their own failure and delusions but are unable to take the steps to become numb in order to deliver the nightmarish ‘Truth’ unto others. Pathfinders and Forces of Nature are neither Storyteller nor Incubi; they are outside this spectrum of distinction. The Pathfinder is akin to the Trickster spirit: a teacher that would never profess oneself as such. The Pathfinder can induce Change on various levels once s/he discovers the Pattern. Despite a Pathfinder’s personal sacrifices, handicaps, or wounds, s/he will always know how to access the Pattern(s). For if a Pathfinder cannot rise above one’s hardships, s/he will cease to be a Pathfinder.
Forces of Nature are often spoken of among humans with considerable reverence, misunderstanding, and possibly, preconceived notions. Forces of Nature interact with Pathfinders much more directly than interacting with either Storytellers or Incubi. While Pathfinders find, follow or ride the Pattern, Forces of Nature may be described moreso AS the Pattern. Forces of Nature are all the elements set in motion, moving along certain courses. Like a beaver that builds a dam, the Pathfinder goes in current to redirect. One cannot effectively redirect Forces of Nature without firstly, recognizing them; secondly, understanding them; and thirdly, entering into them. Entry points are outside of the Pattern itself, by definition. This is how we navigate different planes. Each has access to different doors, different layers within layers.
Does one really choose one’s role? [Yes.] Are only some allowed to choose, while others, once they have Chosen (as opposed to chosen) a role, have set their Fate thereafter (even if ‘thereafter’ is a kind of misnomer to describe the experience)? [Dunno.] Is it really all about the access points of re-entry that we can detect at any given moment so that we may Change once again? [Quite possibly.]
Everyone has the same dream at some time (all the time?). Over and over again…
Before you mount arguments, I refer you to this anime: Paprika.
The art, the progression of the story and the presentation places you fluidly in the dream state. You are primed for reception of the messages and for the acceptance of the dreamscapes presented. Trust me, you will find reflections of your own dreams in one or many of the tunneling realities.
The movie explores many concepts: the nature of dreams, control of the psyche, alter egos/dopplegangers, memories, trauma, sanctuary, and the splitting and merging of realities. When does one world end and another begin? Will we (can we) secure our portals and gateways? At what point does the veil become so thin that we can no longer tell which reality we are navigating? And is that a real concern if we can navigate each one effectively?
We may assume that our dream life is our own private quarters, secure and wholly solitary in experience. However, as humans, we share many primal landscapes and common scenarios. What themes keep occurring in your psychic spaces? We have all fallen through frightening depths. We have seen heavens and wastelands, history and revolution, alien planets and faery realms. We have been the pursuer and the pursued. (Ever meet the entity on the other end?) We are the warden and the prisoner, the student and the master, the defendant and the judge, the slayer and the slain, the champion and the monster… the list goes on.
What do the overlapping collective subconscious dreamscapes imply? Does it imply that the deepest closets of our psyches can be hacked, manipulated and modified by either ourselves or others regardless of our conscious awareness of what is happening? Does it imply that our evolutionary memories are similar despite region and culture of origin; that there is something about being human that ties us together regardless of race, religion or any other association/affiliation? Or take it another step… that there is something about being an animal, being of the Earth that we will always carry with us?
And what of those who hold memories and lives of the non-human: of the Faery, of the Stars, of the Angels, of the Darkness, of the Hungry, of the Shifters, of the Robots, of the Alien? With what dreams do they impregnate us?
It’s been 4 years since I left central Pennsylvania. In my final adios without grand gestures or a carload of tears, I sped off thinking that I would not miss the place. How could I miss the landscape that accompanied me through the awkward and tiring years of premature, rapid, reckless transitions? In the 5 years during undergrad, I felt like I was rushed through a handful of separate lives. College may be the best time of many young people’s lives, but for me, I don’t really regard 18-23 as a ‘fun’ time. Perhaps you may think this is a shame, or maybe you pity me in some way for not enjoying my youth. I’m not too concerned about it though; I have far much more fun in my adult years than many of my peers.
Anyway, back to my point: I never thought I would really miss it. There were a scant number of bars and clubs nearby, and most of them were not impressive or exciting. Nightlife was slow. We’d have to drive an hour to go to a chain that blared country music as the half-naked waitresses as young as I was served watered-down fluorescent beverages to drunken wanna-be cowboys. If we stayed on campus, it was almost a ghost town on the weekends since half to two thirds of the students were either commuters or termed ‘nontraditional’ (i.e. real adults with jobs and/or partners/families). Of the portion of the students left on campus for the weekend, most partied elsewhere with their senior friends and slept during the day. I was not interested in the partying as much as others were. I’ve always freaked my peers out a great deal with my preference for mornings. During college, it was difficult to find a work-out or breakfast partner. Consequentially, I sunshine-surfed on my own, and by the time the girls down the hall were singing and dancing as they dressed for a frat-tastic black-out, I was in my pjs watching Adult Swim. Like I said, I did some of the partying and late-night Denny’s run, but that is not what I miss at all. I miss what I took for granted: the space, the quiet and Nature.
Living at a campus not within walking distance of anything but residential developments and the woods, and having only a small portion of students with whom to interact, it forced me to entertain myself with what was available. I exercised, read, wrote, sketched, studied, and meditated. My memories of the campus on weekends was a big chunk of empty land for me to roam and explore. I got used to the space. I liked the lack of cars that drove by and the quiet of the air.
I visited the woods a lot, sometimes by myself, sometimes with a few others. I found solace by the river and among the trees. What was wonderful was that for the miles I walked in that forest, I never saw more than a couple people on the trails on any given day The golf course nearby was barely seen from the lower riverside and trails, and the golfers never had a reason to venture into the woods. I could feel as if the woods were mine. That is what I miss terribly. I miss having a forest to go to whenever the mood takes me, night or day, summer or winter, fall or spring. I miss being able to walk undisturbed at night by the river and skip stones or talk to spirits. I miss not being able to set up blankets on the green in the golf courses and watch meteor showers. Where we live now, the woods are guarded and watched at night, as are golf courses. They are also not within walking distance like the woods at the edge of my old campus were. I have had so many fantasies about venturing out at night to explore these woods in this area. However, cops seem attracted to my car, and there are not many good places close by to hide it.
I miss land, space, and freedom of wandering, exploration and movement.
Camping is a necessity, but it holds me over for only so long. My ideal is to be hidden from the eyes of humans, safe from the interruptions of cars and businesses and to have the open sky, green forest, and babbling brooks at my doorstep.