I'm trying to get down last night's dream -- easily the most spectacular, detailed, realistic opium-dream I've ever experienced -- before the Person from Porlock
(in the form of my Physical Therapy nurse) gets here...
I knew I was in for a wild night when, turning off the bedside light, I closed my eyes and began to watch a series of pictures that appeared in my mind, images that I could manipulate and morph in any way I pleased. Velazquez' Las Meninas
as drawn by Ralph Steadman. In the style of Goya's Los Caprichos.
As imagined by Roz Chast.... No, I don't mind the occasional Vicodin at all, thanks very much...
A visitor to my house shows me a device, made possible by a new branch of information science called Telluric Information Analysis (can I get a giggle, Chumps?
). It has now become possible to map the real-time flow of information, from person to person, over a geographical area. The device resembles a notebook computer. On the screen is a grid, five units high by nine wide. He centers the grid over my part of Virginia. He maneuvers the map so that my house is at 0,0. The map extends past the Potomac, just into Maryland. Then he explains that he's going to enter concept x
at my house, and equal-and-opposite concept z
at coordinates 5,9. Opposite ideas at opposite corners of the map. He clicks "Start."
spreads from my house outward toward Maryland. Concept z
spreads in the opposite direction, toward my house. "Now watch, as they meet..."
Swirling colors show the opposite ideas flowing from person to person, meeting, conflicting, conjoining, swirling into anarchy, becoming new ideas, canceling each other out, new wrinkles raiding into the map and changing the whole landscape... But then finally, after a wonderful light-show, stasis.
The whole map is a uniform blue.
"Yes. It never changes again after that."
"But this means --"
"Yes. That's when it ends."
Cut to the the campus of Kenyon College, summer of 2007. It's the 25th Reunion of the Class of '82. A music festival is in progress, many colorfully dressed musical acts are performing on many small stages. The atmosphere is closer to Burning Man than some stodgy Establishment college reunion -- arty, self-indulgent, decidedly highbrow. I'm watching the Orchestra of the College (which, parenthetically, doesn't exist), dressed in fanciful Victorian military uniforms, playing pieces by Hindemith, Schoenberg, Webern. I'm plotting with the Musical Director to borrow a couple of clarinets, an oboe, a bass, some brass, to play an arrangement of "Sgt. Pepper" that I've worked up but never heard live musicians play. I've commandeered an empty stage for the purpose, made signs, passed out flyers...
Someone runs by in a panic, holding a Telluric Information Analysis device. It is glowing bright blue. Everyone understands exactly what it means. I turn to a friend: "Keep a weather eye out for squalls, amigo. See you in Trieste."
(Here's the Person from Porlock. Dammit. Woof
-- she put me through the wringer
The weather report is dire. Epic electrical storms, unlike any human has ever seen -- although perhaps a familiar sight during the Cretaceous Period -- are expected in the next 24 hours. Word goes out: The desperate object of survival is to get to Trieste, where the New Human Race will hunker down and eventually emerge, blinking, into the new sunlight. Anyone who doesn't make it to Trieste, is, well, a goner.(Why Trieste? Search me. But Trieste it is...)
A mad automobile ride across a panicked American suburban landscape. I am in a Mercedes with two Egyptians, agents on God-knows-what recondite mission. They are headed for Washington, there to join with the unseen, unknowable forces arranging, sub rosa,
passages to Trieste. We careen down suburban roads, where families are milling on their lawns, in a state of complete panic. One of the agents screams at the other, who's behind the wheel: "Do not
slow down! For anything,
do you understand?"
A child wanders into the road. Goes under our wheels. I look back out the rear window: Dead. Smashed. Parents, already in a state of madness, shriek their rage at us as they recede into the distance. I think, Yes. That's what it's come to. There's no going back now.
In the far distance, enormous storm clouds, purple, flashing with lightning, bigger than anything anyone has ever seen, gather and begin their march toward civilization.
The Egyptians are now in Fairfax, VA, still careening madly through snarled and angry traffic, still leaving the broken bodies of incautious pedestrians in their wake. Panic is general. Gunfire. Arson. Looting. We take a cloverleaf turn too fast (Route 50 at Gallows Road, if you're keeping score) and the car smashes through a guardrail and plunges...
(I watch the concrete wall approach. I see the cruelly hard imperfections in the concrete.)
(The road has yellow stripes painted on it. Why?)
Two hundred feet to the highway below. The impact throws me from the vehicle, safely onto a grass embankment. I inspect the car. The Egyptians are nothing but charred bone. Too bad, you leadfooted bastards. I'll try to get your message through, but I'm making no guarantees.
A short walk from the accident scene, I come across a stationery store. I recognize arcane signifiers in the signage: It's a safe-house. I go in, and find many of the same Kenyon crowd, along with some people from my current life, co-workers, friends, are milling around. The leadership is trying to get though to those same forces arranging passages to Trieste, but current conditions make it impossible. Some of the folks in the room are embracing, saying their goodbyes. Hopelessness pervades. It's too late.
I leave the shop, to scout conditions. I look into the distance. The storm clouds are upon us, it's an utterly spellbinding sight: Buildings are exploding, entire roads are being ripped to shreds by lightning, debris is flying everywhere, human body parts are beginning to land at my feet.
I go back into the shop: "Did anybody
make it to Trieste?"
"I don't know. God, I hope so..."