Place of Refuge

Place of Refuge

04 August 2009

the beginning of the end of my stories

I tend to feel that humans are a bit like cats. As T.S. Elliot helps us see, cats all have that jellicle name, that name that captures their essence and is their true name. Humans rarely name their cats by their jellicle name, because, quite frankly, we don't take the time to get to know them before we name them. Same with kids.

Makropoulos is really just a character in a story that was originally written by Karol Capek, in a play called "The Makropoulos Case." This was later made an opera by Leos Janacek, which of course I have sung in many times. I like singing my own story. The last time I saw it - yes, literally saw it from a seat in the audience - was at the English National Opera, sometime in the 1990's. It struck me than, as I watched someone up there performing the character that is me, that I have become somewhat frozen in time, and yet, look how the theatre itself has changed! My own changes have not been external. I've just continued to gather information, through novels and essays and poetry and plays and newspapers and magazines, and radio and television and movies and now the internet. And whether I like it or not, that information is all related to a similar modest theme, that being the meaning of life. Of my life? Yes, in a way. But I think I realized very early on that my own life is of very little consequence in the larger scheme of things, though I can make it meaningful for myself, and I've tried to do that. The real challenge has been to make it meaningful in a way that it's also meaningful for others.

This blog is my most recent attempt to make my life meaningful, or to capture all the meaning I've gathered over my 424 years, and to put it into some logical sequence. Yes, that's right, I've been around for at least 424 years - or at least those are the years I remember. I remember, for instance, Shakespeare. He was a skinny little runt of a man, not much to look at. But pompous and confident - and that was what made women fall for him. He thought all women loved him, and to be true, I did for a time. But he was sloppy, way too sloppy for me, both in and out of bed. And, as you might imagine, he talked way too much, and treated his wife like crap. But I'm here to tell you now that he did create most of those plays, though the actual language was often the product of a game he played with some of the other actors, like Burbage and Alleyn. Sometimes Ben Jonson came along for the fun of it, though most of the wordsmiths were actors. And there was a woman - not Shakespeare's sister, as Virginia Woolf imagined - but a woman nonetheless. Her name was Liza, as I recall, though everyone called her Val. I never really asked why.

But that was way too long ago to dwell on it. I am here, now, in 2009. A most trepidatious year. Everyone seems to be frightened - of the economy, of the weather, of the earth, of themselves. I do feel I've come to an end, perhaps an end of my life, perhaps an end of life as we know it, perhaps just an end, packed with all the hopefulness of a new beginning. Everything I see seems to be aware of the endings around us, and the changes that come with them.

I could make myself miserable thinking about endings, and - quite frankly - sometimes I do. However, I force myself to be more optimistic. There is a new beginning beyond the ending, even if that beginning is the beginning of an eternal, sweet, silence. It's something, and if nothing exists, than silence is something. It has form and dimension, when cast against the platform of nothing.

But I diverge. . . . I must tell you of a dream I had, about six years ago, and that marked, for me, the beginning of the beginning . I don't know if I can truly categorize it as a dream, except for the fact that it happened at night. What it really was was a voice, and it wasn't the first time I had hear this voice. Let me tell you.

I heard it first around 1984, when I was living in my grandmother's house, shortly after her death. My father's death preceded hers by a few years. I was always a bit of a loner, but a pleasant one. And dating back to my childhood, I had this horrible tendency to have premonitions or visions. Dead people would appear in my dreams and give me messages for the living. When this voice came to me in the 80's, my premonitions had subsided a little. But there I was, sleeping in my grandmother's bed, when a voice ripped me out of my slumber with one statement: "we are entering a new era."

The statement itself did not appall me. I was about to go off to begin my M.A., so I figured it was pretty much a personal message, though I really did find the voice to be quite creepy. It did not come from me. It came from outside of me. It hovered over me, like a protective mother over her child. Its tone was deep and cavernous.

I'll honestly tell you that, until I heard the voice again, in 2004, I hadn't thought that much about it. But then I heard it again. This time, I was in New York State, and it was the first weeks of my new job there. I was comfortable for the most part, and vere excited about the new position. And I was sleeping.

Suddenly, during the early morning hours, a voice - the same voice - ripped me from my sleep. The voice was deep, as I said, and it sounded terrifically hollow. It also seemed to be straining to produce itself, as if it needed ana apparatus, with a throat, to creat the sound it needed to make. The sound, too, seemed to be coming out of a skeleton, like ti was pushing itself through an impossible aparatus, in order to b e able to speak and make words.

What was shocking, though, was the news it gave:

"Jesus will come as the scholar on the four days of the grid."

I woke up, right away, and wrote it down, then went back to sleep, hoping it would continue, and tell me, for instance, what the grid is, or who Jesus would be. It said nothing more.

I went to a psychic and explained the message to him. He said it was probably personal. The Jesus it referred to is the Jesus in me. OK, fine, that works (I thought.)

I forgot the message for a little while, but not long. It was just too odd of a message, and the voice that bore it was so urgent. Whenever I try to explain that voice, I think about it this way: it was a compulsion to speak. But to speak requires an apparatus. So somehow the compulsion to speak found some form of semi-physical apparatus, and the words tore through it, as they might through a skull or a boney aperture. Thus, the voice itself is hollow, almost the negative image of a voice.

Anyway, I eventually found myself thinking about the message again, and especially a couple of its key words: the Grid and/or the Age of the Grid. Jesus. The scholar.

It seems the term "the grid" has been in popular usage for a little while, and, in particular,it has come to refer to electronic media, We have companies called "National Grid," and the phone service is on a grid. Grids surround us.; they help us make life manageable.

And then there is the matter of Jesus, an image who many people on this planet feel they have a personal relationship with. But do they really know him? What's he like? Will he like candy or ice cream? Will he be a person at all? Or many? Or just an impulse?

And then there's the matter of scholarship. Sophia Knowledge. In the book of Proverbs, wisdom is the most important thing a human can work towards.

Ever since I received that message, I've been pursuing its meaning. I have some ideas. I'll share them with you later. I hope you enjoy them, but alway remember: they are fictions. Even I am a fiction, and a product of fiction.

Thanks for stopping by --

No comments: