The Long Night
It was only 8 o'clock at night, but I was trying to fall asleep because I had to wake up at five in the morning to go on a Boy Scout camping trip. The last trip was in November, and it was horrible! Now it was December, and I was really prepared. I had brought everything I could possibly need, and some things I didn't need at all.
Anyway, I couldn't get to sleep. I was thinking how fun the trip would be. I got out of bed and started walking toward my parents' room. I tripped over my duffle bag, and yelled some things that I shouldn't write down in a book.
"What was that?" my dad said, as he came into the room.
"I can't get to sleep!"
"Well keep trying, and don't get out of bed!"
"Oh, all right!" As I got back into the bed, my dad left the room. It was about 9:15 by now.
So, I sat in bed, trying to think of nothing. Finally I got out of bed again. I got to the door of my parent's room, and knocked. I heard by mom's voice saying...
"Go back to bed!"
I shuffled back to my room, and got back in the bed.
It was 10:00. I tried thinking of a blank piece of paper, But it didn't work. By 11:30 I started fading off to sleep.
Believe you me, I will not make the mistake of the nose dancers and include chapters two through nine of that fine essay ("The Great Camping Trip"), which I did warn you about, after all. This should be enough for psychological purposes. Let's see... the handwriting is about the same (take my word for it) except larger, the style is about the same except less redundant, but what of the content? Look at it: "I had to wake up..." Since when do I have to perform a leisure-time activity? What was my internal commitment to that activity, to that organization, that made me accept it as an imperative? I allege that my role was purposely ambiguous, that I let myself be pulled by peer pressure, parental expectations, etc. to whatever seemed to be the obvious next step, whereas in fact I clearly had a good deal of power in shaping my destiny had I but exerted it... By relinquishing responsibility in this way, I could enjoy the luxury of whining about all the travail I had been "pulled" into.
And the tragedy throughout is expressed as "things going wrong," the frustration of my desires. But therein lies the comedy, for no one takes these desires too seriously... certainly not my parents, who express no sympathy and ultimately just want me and my whining out of their hair ("...and don't get out of bed.") Neither am I my own real adversary: my torment lies in "thinking how fun the trip would be." And even as this is obvious foreshadowing of a tortuous adventure, so too is it ultimately a pretty accurate description given my self-deceptive ambivalence. Despite the hyperbolic gestures at immanent doom there is displayed here a lightness, which one could describe as a lack of passion, covering itself up by grandiose gestures. Everything is exclaimed! Fraught by this limbo, this disturbing relation with my unconscious, I turn repeatedly to the only other human beings present, despite the all-too-clear indications that they will be unreceptive. But more than that.. look at the images I use to try to fall asleep, to perform the dictates of society... Nothingness... a blank pad of paper, this latter reflective of the manner in which modern education ignores any systems of thought that children might have worked out independently and blasts these away with a so-called unified curriculum, forcing the kids into the state of tabula rasa that moldy dead guys with jolly socks thought they possessed. I, luckily, somehow circumvented this, endowing myself with "some things that I didn't need at all," but retain the dictate of the super-ego which Urges towards nothingness, to escape from the torment of uncertainty and ambivalence that rightly make up the stuff of life.
The most puzzling thing about this selection, though, is its conclusion: When all hope is gone, when all strategies run out, only then is there sleep, and it must creep up from behind without warning or explanation, as fickle as the Grace of God, or whatever other slightly cheaper and more ad hoc symbol you want to dredge up. I embrace this life as My Own, yet am Man apart from it, well fed with obvious parallelisms that aren't so much a result of poor writing and underestimation of the audience's perceptiveness, but more an account of the repetitive, sort of annoying character of entrained thought... specifically patterns, which, like the endless strains of a song one has been listening to over and over again to the point of recreation (that's ree-creation, not wreckreation), like the bass part to that song which the lover of a well-practiced player might feel played by his hands on her (X-her, that is) flesh as he sleeps at night, which squeeze the brain into the shape of their dialectic until it becomes difficult to even conceive of the world as being any other shape... And yes I know I said I'd stop making self-referential comments, because I trust you, but I can only heft you so far. Let's compromise in a way that hopefully will let you know I trust you without My really having to do anything that even slightly shows it: From now on in lieu of a lengthy explanation for what might appear to the unwarned to be "just stupid," I will merely <<wink>>. <<Wink>>
|© 1993 Mark A. Linsenmayer||[ Contents ]|