Thursday, September 10, 2009

If on an autumn's night a traveller

I took a walk tonight, and found myself on the road less traveled. At the end of it, I came before a door that I have not entered in more years than I care to remember. The facade remains unchanged- stubby tower blocks of brick and fading paint. The parking lot has merely become more cracked, the windows remain that awful translucent mosaic- and all the hallways stained with the nicotine yellow of dying florescence. And then, for a moment of a moment, the scent of the place drifted towards me and...

And what memories. Scent, that most elusive of the senses, most beloved by winged Muninn- what a scent of memory it was. The acrid, sour stab of the industrial hallway cleaner, the musty, heavy crush of mold, the wispy brief hint of the sweet, miamasmic taint that is the hallmark of spoiled food. And above all else, most oppressive of all... the smell of failure. Despite. Despair. Ah, despair, the killing word. In that small suite of rooms, amongst the dust and grime, among the stains and junk, the foetid rotting garbage, the mildew and the cobwebs and the shit... amongst this refuse pit of a life I once knew someone.

I have met the living dead. No, that is not quite accurate, for the living dead are vegetables, and this man was not that. No.

I have seen the living damned. There's nothing you can do to them that will harm them, for every hour of every day their mind plays upon them the sins of the self- and there's no escaping your own damnation. Sartre was again, as I often find, wrong. Hell is not other people. That's something you say when you are desperate to blame your curmudgeonly, bitter ways on anyone but yourself. “I know how men in exile feed on dreams” Aeschylus said. Hell is a wasteland of solitude, a blight of your own making. Here in the arid dust you lie, as Huginn and Muninn tear flesh from your bones, carrion foul that they are.

"What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water."

Hell is nothing less then utter submission to despair.

I fear despair. I the heir of the Prager mimetic legacy. It bequeaths to each of its blood the habits of isolation, destruction and despite. That's a bit too much hyperbole, I'm sure, but every Prager has their only little brooding retreat. For each of us, a crumbling mental keep on a rocky outcrop, overlooking the oblongata sea. We go there to brood, and, like mad sorcerers of old, we conjure up the sins the fathers, and visit them upon our self. It's our little homunculus, our second shadow. It traipses at our feet, engorges itself on the scraps we feed it- blame, mostly. We blame it for all our failings, all our faults, all our mistakes. We need those mimetic sins, that genetic birthright that follows behind. Without it, we might have the gall to accept that our gloomy not-at-all-antic disposition is really entirely our own fault. And to totally accept blame, without a single reference to a predecessor, why, that's not the Prager way.

Oh, this sounds so dreary. And it would be a lie to say that all of this thought process happened with a single scent. But as I walked home, watching the dog snuffle and snort her way through the grass and listening to neighbours screaming fits, I felt a little less concerned with upcoming troubles.

'Don't let it bring you down, it's only castles burning.....