6 I Smell You Forest of Rain; or, Six Ways of Looking at Myself (which does not infer that I do see myself or selves) [A Short-short Story]

Monologues and Vision

I

I see you, I dream you, I’ve dreamed you before, alone, I smell you, forrest of rain at dawn. I could not imagine, imagination was not yet dead . . . where did I hear that before? Yes, I question too much and not enough. What I intend has nothing exactly to do with what I see, have seen, do see in ways when my eyes are closed, will see–how much of seeing is a matter of will, what I will when willing is not wishing?

The most important seeing happens when eyes are closed, no? To close one’s eyes and look inside; to see behind the mask we wear would be one thing; to see behind the masks we wear inside is another . . . everything seen about masks and masking, seeing from behind them changes the scene?

What vision do I have in my dreams? I am walking in a dream, so many people I see day in morning in and morning out are sleep walking . . . What kind of seeing happens in my dreams? What we occlude from our sight when awake comes before us in our dreams . . . parades to be watched . . . the stranger I become to myself, in myself, how many of my selves are estranged from one another?

 

II

I’ve never been to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I went once to the Saint Paddy’s Day Parade here in New York, was by Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, we went inside the Cathedral; we walked the perimeter after the Stations of the Cross, pausing at the niche’s for the chapels to the saints, I was wearing my medallion of Saint Therese de Lisieux, a shower of roses, I remembered, I made my First Holy Communion and my Confirmation into the One True Holy Roman Apostolic Church in her church in East Flatbush . . . pray for us my beautiful sweet Therese, I think I used to say, can see me imagining saying, can imagine me seeing me doing the same, prayers when I was a boy, how much devotion did I have, could I have had? I recall an uncle who always said his prayers every night before bed, got on his knees at the side of his bed and said his prayers, what they were I could not know, how he talked to God, I wanted to say, his God, but—what would have been wring with saying his God? God is personal, individual, different for everyone as He is singularly the same eternally.

 

III

What is it about Shakespeare that so many detractors will never understand because they cannot understand because they have never engaged in reading the way necessary to understand him? We do not have faith in reading, no we do not, and this is not hyperbole. We no longer know how to read the way reading had been engaged even when I was first an undergraduate and had to make great and sometimes painful strides to get in step–I did not have a set of lesser literates telling me it was okay to remain semi-literate, or show me a way to manage our systemically bred under-achievement by packaging it as a powerful story of how an individual struggled against the agents of power (here read literacy) to become the successful and whole-again person all others who cannot read well enough can honor. We have not been taught how-to in a very long time. I am still trying to figure out how any of our Public School pedagogy misses getting tagged for being racist, sexist, classist, and lastly, although not in the least, Machiavellian. But then I have just answered my question–it would not be successful as a ploy worthy of Machiavelli if we knew it–and if the elite were not as successful in establishing a bureaucratically managed (and bureaucrat-friendly) pedagogy, complete with systematic under-education, we might be able to see it–read between the lines instead of superficially skimming the pages of State Sponsored texts, whether written, recorded, filmed or photographed, disseminated through print, broadcast or social media . . . we bleat our way to our shearing or slaughter, whichever one you prefer to serve as a metaphor what the State does to us.

 

IV

Hamlet is my brother–what could it mean to anyone who has not read the text, or at least as we prefer, having read someone who has read someone who has read the text, perhaps in excerpts in a class conducted by someone who has actually read the text, and if an adjunct, perhaps only once and right before the class he will teach because he had a brainstorm to do so because he read an article in a New York Times book review where the character of Hamlet was mentioned by the author of the review in a pithy way that the adjunct and his half drunk friends in Park Slope Brooklyn found interesting. But, having read Hamlet seven times myself, a few re-reads for classes I have taught as an adjunct–although I do not drink with friends in Park Slope–I can safely say, as I do after Harold Bloom, that Hamlet is the father of modern consciousness. I am and I am not like this character without parallel from among the characters that his progenitor created. So what then do I have to say about the question?

Hamlet’s principal question is to be or to become; whether to kill himself or not is not the entirety of Hamlet’s question. It cannot simply be a question of suicide, not–that is simplistic. Whether or not life is worth living or going on with is an important question, a serious philosophical question, as we get from Camus at the opening of his The Myth of Sisyphus; however, there is something else intrinsic in Hamlet’s to be or not. There are the mutually exclusive yet reciprocal matters of being and becoming that Hamlet addresses as well: When I am, I am not becoming; while I become, I am not being. Wherefore art thou Romeo? What’s in a name? How do Montague and Capulet read? How do we read? I have read Montaigne too as Shake must have on his scene. To be or to become, how, when, where–are they choices to be made? Are we ever presented with this choice? What are the consequences of pursuing one for oneself when the other should be at hand? These too are questions serious ad philosophical.

 

V

Reading is not only looking at; it is not merely seeing the words themselves in print on a page. Skimming words set in lines and rows . . . to read or not to read; another seeing to be seen. All criticism is seeing although this seeing is not in itself understanding before hand but a kind of seeing eye dog of the mind whereby understanding comes as a kind of arrival in spite of an special blindness. I do not know the author’s in intention. Do they have them, these intentions? To see or not to see as I have said about many a binary pair of infinitives; to write or not to write; to read or not; to become or not, this latter one contained implicitly in Hamlet’s To be or not to be; all not being includes becoming.

What do I see with these eyes? I remember Oedipus plucking out his eyes. What other eyes do I have to see except these eyes in my head, there are other eyes in the mind, no? I look sometimes but do I see? What I see with these eyes I have amounts to what? What is it, though, that I see inside irrespective of what I see in  the world–what eyes are these that I have inside–the eyes of wisdom? The eyes of the mind may also be the eyes of Folly. Praise the Goddess Folly! She is one,you know. Erasmus is right.

Each I I am inside is what, now who, do I look for names, what’s in a name? A load of freshly laid dog shit still smells badly if you call it a rose. Each I I am becomes what in me, what is this interior-I’s to be or not, each to each the others around me in me–the many Selves self– a pair of eyes to see the world, another to see what is ahead, beyond, before me in me; the undiscovered country is not only death, there are other undiscovered countries inside of me. What I become I do not know until I am; to become; to be. There I stand to see in the way I may or may not see outside myself, in the world, the world of other people, of other things, of other ways—I am and I am not; I am not as I become.

I see freedom. I see love. I see humanity. I see the humane. I see a rock in the grass by the tree that casts shade in the daylight, mid afternoon sun above the canopy of leaves. To see or not to see; to understand or not, the latter itself to stand under, another version of walking a mile in another man’s shoes . . . I see love; I see leaves falling in the fall; I see buds spring in the spring.

Who am I when I look at the world? What am I when I look but do not see what I should? The hills do not look like white elephants to the man in the story, do they? They do to the girl, the young woman on her way to Madrid for an abortion. I look out the window at the view as the train moves by what is fixed, only appearing to move past me at the speed of the train. There is the evidence of things not seen, as Christians like to say after Paul. What is not seen can be evident? Of course there is more in the heaven and earth of being than can be dreamed by anyone’s metaphysics, anyone’s ideas on knowledge, what it is, when it is, where it is, how . . .everything we learn or study or read or think we know or disseminate or talk about or express an opinion about or write an essay on is epistemology. Knowledge is not impossible; Truth is absolute and transcendental. These are not fancies or me spinning my wheels.

Again and again without gain (as I have said before and will likely say again) I ask the questions I think I need to ask myself, answers are never at the ready, genuine inquiry performed by me in me for me with me and me and me, how many remain uncounted, all the selves inside the Self. I am who I am even when I have forgotten who I am and we do forget so many of who we are; I am we, I have said before, for other reasons.

VI

I see you, I dream you, I’ve dreamed you before, alone, I smell you, forrest of rain at dawn. I hold nothing more or less of you with the empty space next to me in bed. I get up. I glance at the mirror on the wall reflecting the windows across the room, street light locomotive through the curtains; they flip up once, twice more abruptly, then fall still curtains . . . the skies are grey for miles in all directions, wind blowing steady from the east, again, curtains up and down and twisting and turning and falling even and folded and up once more and once more again before falling all of a sudden still.

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