Monday, March 23, 2009

All For One

Our writer may not now how our story ends. He may not care, dabbling thoughtlessly, letting spew forth his every imagining. What contortions we may perform at the command of his pen driven by a fevered and unconcerned mind. Or perhaps he starts a life thinking, Ah this is the hero, there will be adventure and romance! But before the tale is finished, the author suffers some change of heart and all those adventures culminate in misfortune and romance becomes tragedy because some cloud has intruded upon the writer’s spirit. So Mme Bonacieux must die, D’Artagnan must at last become one of the Cardinal’s creatures.
Thus the life of all characters is drawn out by a mysterious author. Are we ourselves that author, that author that has become so identified with one character in his masterpiece that he forgets himself? Are we yet not even the written copy, but only the many fevered dreams of our writer, ideas and personages not yet put to paper?
Now I am with my dearest friends, in a moment, I will be alone and scorned by all. Here I am with my husband, now my husband is dead and I care for our children, now it is my husband that has survived me and does his best for our offspring, now it is a child that has died and we are driven apart by the tragedy. One little skip, like a frog from one pond to another nearby, or like a finger turning a page, or a pen writing first one version, then another.
Am I a story like the one my children watch in the nearby room, etched into a silver disc by some means beyond my comprehension, accessed by a laser scanning it like a beam of attention? Today it is this story. Tomorrow it is another. Like Audrey Hepburn, I can be a nun, or a sweet little chef, or a princess, or a white trash gold digger, depending on which story the laser accesses today. These are stories that have never happened, and never will happen, because they are the wild and incoherent dreams of an unknowable creature locked in a comma.
We say here, in this story that I inhabit, that man was made in God’s image. This may be, it may be that we are dreamed thus because the one who dreams us is trying desperately to remember herself, running through the dark mazes of an intoxicated mind, opening doorways and discovering chambers that range through the spectrums of light, each one presenting some clue, some key to the great puzzle. I am this and I am that. What am I?
Imagine the horror contained in the Being of this God. Imagine the delight. Imagine the wretchedness of being trapped not only in one unconscious and unsuspected dream but in many simultaneously. Imagine also becoming lucid, not in one dream only, but in many different strange scenarios all at once. Imagine finding that key in one, knowing it is a key, knowing you are a dream, and unlocking a doorway into the next related dream, another fantasy that is the difference between blue and violet.
Conceive of it, opening these chambers, holding these chambers at once like a juggler keeping so many balls suspended in the air, knitting together a vast network in which you can recall that you slumber somewhere. Some sweet dreams are stubborn and refuse to yield to that notion. Who wants to leave a pleasant dream behind or discover that it is not a final paradise? Some nightmares are equally unyielding, hugging us tight with their clammy grip of fear and confusion, drawing the spirit of the dreamer to them like shards of metallic dust to a lodestone.
The spirit would need its own strength to pull itself free. This thing might be accomplished with effort. Who knows how difficult it is to move one’s spirit, a usually passive being? Who has tried? Is it possible? Ha! What isn’t possible with dreams?
Once I could not fly, then I could, but only by flapping my arms, then I could lift off with just the will to do it. Why not? But all of these trifles could only be accomplished when I was certain that I dreamed.
Here, now, where I sit, it seems that I cannot fly. I can barely walk. I seldom leave this room. I have no mastery of this dream, only the occasional suspicion that it is a trap into which I have fallen. It is a terrain that I have been unable to connect to the network being weaved because of that fateful condition of being unable to maintain that I am an agent of a dream.
But what would I do to be more convinced? Go through other people’s houses uninvited? Kill someone? Make love to an abhorrent stranger? Attempt flight? It must be something shocking.
And even with the help of some little shock, even on the verge of seeing clearly that I am a dream, I recoil. Is this nightmare, this one lone bearable fantasy worse than running the gauntlet? What could be worse than the promise of Jacob’s ladder?
We begin as a brave D’Artagnan, adventurous and honorable, and become a somber Athos, wizened and drenched in grief, brave not because there is so much to gain, but because there is nothing left to loose.
There are those characters that raise their fists to the sky and cry out that the author is cruel. And then there are those that understand that the characters suffer because the author is suffering, and of these there are those that are unaffected by this revelation, those that are swallowed by a sense of helplessness and apathy, and also those that respond with pluck and a measure of irrational chivalry; "If my God needs rescuing, then however small I may be, I shall be his redeemer!"
After all, where this third class is concerned, if they fail, what have they lost? Absorption in their own role in a comedy or a tragedy that may as well have been decided by a roll of the dice? It is something to loose- the conviction that you are real, that you are important, that all stories have been leading up to your singularly fascinating tale.
On the other hand what is there to be gained? Ah! There is no real method for discerning what the outcome of such a success would be.
But one who is chivalrous and honorable is not so because they hope for a reward for themselves, if they did, they would then not in fact be chivalrous or honorable but something else all together. It would be only a very special agent within a dream that would be moved to search for a key and a door and hope to liberate a mysterious dreamer from the lethargy of a deep and confused sleep. The only motive that could see one such creature through would be a sincere desire to be of service to that other mysterious benefactor and sometimes torturer.
It is an occupation for one willing to embark on a quest for the sake of the journey itself, whatever the outcome. Our writer may not know how our story ends. He may not care. Whether we are beautifully written, or feverishly dreamed, what more can we ask for from one that is a prisoner of their own fabrications? And if that troubled dreamer requires our service to be liberated and we decline the responsibility, what cowards we have let ourselves become? What an apparition of diminished spirit I would be, having heard that the greatest princess I can conceive of is imprisoned in slumber and having declined undertaking the quest to free her because it would certainly mean my undoing?
The book is not called D’Artagnan or Athos and certainly not Monsieur Bonacieux. It is given the name The Three Musketeers. All for one, and one for all. A promise of sacrifice that flows from great to small and from small to great equally.
It is the mouse after all, who must save the lion.

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