Sunday, December 3, 2006

the séancE

The house played an odd role in his life since his mother was born there and his first wife had died there, but Virgil kept this personal history to himself. In fact, he kept himself to himself since he saw what happened to people who did otherwise, which was a little ironic since he was hosting the seance.

The first person he saw was Carlotta -- who undressed him with mildly lustful eyes from the safety of her marriage. Charles, as always, was nearby and soon had his arm around his wife, saying, "Hi Virgil. Glad you're here." "Well of course he's here, Darling, he's going to be guiding us into the 'beyond', isn't he?" murmured Carlotta, sipping her wine. Virgil chatted mechanically for a minute and then went into the kitchen.

Tom was cutting up pizzas which had just been delivered and setting out wine and beer for whomever. "Hey, Virgil, you really up for this? Frankly, I think it's major weird, but Donna's always watching shit like this on television, so, what the hell, here I am." Having said his say, Tom focused on the pizzas. Virgil liked Tom, he didn't think he was an idiot, with idiot values and compulsions and Tom at least took Virgil seriously enough to give him the benefit of the doubt about the evening, which was saying something.

Edythe cornered Virgil, "Oh, THERE you are, Jeffery said you had arrived. Now, don't you get sloshed like all the rest of us, we need our captain to have his wits about him on THIS journey." Virgil didn't know how to take Edythe. She loved to hear her voice, that was obvious, but he sensed her verbosity masked a keen mind and so resisted any temptation to pigeonhole her.

These people were friends, of sorts, of Virgil's and within this social matrix he knew where he stood, even though the matrix was a living death compared to how he felt when he was alone on the beach at night listening to the waves and feeling those salty, buffeting winds. He heard songs in those night surfs he never heard in the world of people and felt marginally schizophrenic because of it. It was always like walking from one dimension into another when he passed in and out of the world of talking adults with their manipulations, cravings, and fears. Countless times he noticed how profoundly the bottom dropped out of his life the moment he lost his aloneness and grudgingly returned to ritualized relationships.

Speaking of which, Donna, in baggy sweats, as always, interrogated him about the stock market. "What's your read on this, Virgil, is it time to go into real estate?" Virgil rolled his eyes (mentally) and answered, "No, I personally wouldn't do that. The worst time to trade is when things are choppy, and big movements, up or down, are when to look for killer opportunities." He sipped the champagne he brought for the evening and Donna scratched her ass and went looking for Tom.

The large, two story frame house groaned a little under the wind and seemed, all and in all, to be the perfect setting for a seance. It was now entirely dark, 8:30 or so, and Virgil knew too much alcohol had already been consumed, so he bellied up to the event with the announcement, "Mes amis, let's kick some psychic ass!" Edythe tittered, and said, "Let's DO it." Tom looked resigned and disappeared into the kitchen. Donna belched assentingly and Carlotta shot him an enigmatic look. Charles and Jeffery had been arguing about politics and seemed relieved to be rescued from themselves.

Setting up things was simple enough, a few chairs and candles (in spite of Tom's, "You must be kidding!") and a little speech about "anything's possible", finishing with, "now for Christ's sake, don't fall asleep on me." Getting down to business meant chanting a mantra together for about 3 minutes and then settling back to watch Virgil do his stuff.

In a peculiar way, Virgil was 'channeling'. There wasn't any hocus pocus, candles notwithstanding, but something was happening which wasn't coming from Virgil. He'd done this before and was acquiring a local reputation for it, but what actually happened mystified him as much as the participants. It was a kind of 'reality judo', as he gropingly put it to himself, a pushing and pulling at the interstices of social reality. Something blew through him from those night beaches into the structures of adult interactions. Something fierce and implacably uncompromising, a wind which reshuffled the deck of interpersonal consistencies -- that deck of death.

"But you’re saying," Edythe was asking, "that we're in a kind of dream together, a 'togetherness' dream? I don't think I understand this." More wind came into the room. Charles had crossed his legs and folded his arms (all locked up) and looked at Virgil suspiciously, "Sounds to me like you're saying we're all nuts or that we're in banana land and don't even know it!" Tom intervened, "No, no, I'm not hearing that, but I've gotta say it doesn't compute for me. I mean, I can't compare it to anything. Maybe it's all true Virgil, but I think what's coming out of you isn't understandable by . . . I don't know, 'personalities'?

"Personalities are part of the game," Virgil heard himself saying. And it really was like that, since he never experienced himself as 'saying' these things, he 'heard' himself, and thus it seemed appropriate (at least for the lack of a better way to say it) to call these gatherings seances. Donna looked at Tom, "Well, I don't know, but SOMETHING'S happening and it's making me hot." "Christ, Baby," laughed Tom, glad to hear it, but I'd rather you kept that to yourself until we got home!"

"Lucky you," muttered Jeffery to Tom, receiving a kiss of death look from Edythe. This exchange, naturally, was noticed by everyone, but quickly moved away from and the beat went on with the evening. Carlotta now took the stage, pointing out that Virgil, "sounded different somehow. You really do, you know, you sound like someone else." Virgil replied, "Yeah, well everyone tells me that, but notice when you're talking to 'me', I sound like good ol Virgil." Donna opined, "This is odd Virgil, ALL of this is odd."

More wind. More wind. The room seems to lose its definition, like a microscope blurring out of focus. No after life talk is happening, no 'communing with spirits', but core unraveling is going on and pylons of the taken for granted are trembling from these winds.

Virgil: A dysfunctional family is self protective, but it can be left. So can the dysfunctional human family, it can also be left and if you are what you are only in relation to the world, to the consensus daydream of the world, then what's real is the network, not 'you'. There isn't any 'you'.

Donna: This is a little frightening . . . but don't stop.

Carlotta: Yes, don't stop.

Jeffery: What the hell are you saying? You WANT to hear some more of this drivel. No offense Virgil, but this isn't what I expected and it's pissing me off.

Tom: Why?

Jeffery: WHY? Because, Jesus Christ, it's fucking nuts! I don't know what the HELL he’s talking about! I can't speak for anyone else, but I sure the fuck know who I am and what's real and what's not. He's undermining EVERYTHING, can’t you see that? But, I won’t leave, I'll listen to some more. I'm not afraid of this shit. Nobody forced me to come here, so what the hell, this is better than listening to my broker tell me I just lost another fifty grand today.

Edythe: You WHAAAT??

Jeffery: I'll tell you about it later. I think it's fixable. I haven't sold anything yet, and it sure as hell won't be the first time I had to ride out one of these cycles.

The attention moves back to business as usual land and the focus gets firmer. Tom gets a beer and Carlotta looks at Virgil, now silent, with a look she's never given to anyone. A look a wariness, yes, but also a look of craving, sensing some point of no return, some miracle of ending. And so for her, briefly, the walls of the room vanish and the network blinks out – instantaneously to return.

Virgil: Nothing is being said here. Nothing is being said here.

Charles: Now what the hell does THAT mean?

Tom: Keep talking Virgil.

Virgil: Perhaps this won't be well received, but it needs to be said this really isn't 'Virgil' talking. There's no 'personality' in here saying these words. The words are coming from beyond personality realness.

Edythe: You mean you're 'channeling'. That's what's happening, isn't it?

Charles: What the hell's channeling?

Edythe: Some vaster being is speaking 'through' Virgil. He's a channel for someone else's consciousness. This used to be hot subject a few years ago and everybody was reading about it.

Virgil: No, there's no personality continuum, going from little one's to big ones. There's no channeling, because there's not 'two ends' of the channel. This is something else.

Jeffery: What then?

Virgil: Put it like this. Let's assume there's 'nobody home here'. No entity of personhood, no atom of selfness. Assume that. Now further assume the ABSENCE of such a ball bearing identity ISN'T the absence of realness and that this realness, thank you very much, can verbalize ideas, manipulate language, and communicate from its substance. Thus, if this is the case (and it is), the fact or reality of communication DOESN'T IN ANY WAY imply or necessitate a "communicating self'. LIFE ITSELF is talking (and listening), it doesn't have to be coming from some fantasy ego/personality. Breathing is the self activity of already the case realness and so is talking. No breathers, no talkers, no listeners, no victims, no heroes.

The room, the house, and the town become a jungle of thought transcending realness. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. The network stumbles and the world bubble bounces in waterfalls of infinity.

Virgil's mother was born between the two World Wars in Poland. His mother's mother nearly died that night and never really recovered from it. Virgil had photographs of his lineage on the wall of the stairs to the bedroom. These were more 19th than 20th century creatures, he often observed to himself, and envied them because of it. His maternal grandmother's name was Dorothy and she had that look of Catholic certainty about her. She needed her faith for what was awaiting her and by the time Hitler moved into Poland, the entire family had moved to the west coast of the United States.

Virgil was born after the Korean War, so never knew its horrors. He served in Vietnam, though, and never really recovered from that either. He returned to a country so disemboweled with confusion he could never quite work out what he had been risking his life for. In due course, he became a chemist for a pharmaceutical company which mutilated animals to make better toiletries. In fact, this is where he met his wife who worked in one of the labs.

One evening he came home to discover his wife had shot herself in the face, next to the aquarium. On the surface of the water was floating (face down) a note which said, "FORGIVE ME, FORGIVE ME, FORGIVE ME". Later this same note was found in several kennels and in a zoo.

They had no children, they planned to have two, but her death intervened. After the funeral he returned to the sanctuary of their marriage, which was the ocean, away from laboratories and away from the world. For a year or two it's if he was in a dream within which he sleepwalked, over and over again, back to the beach, especially at night. He would sit under the stars, thinking about spraying chemicals into the eyes of terrified dogs and monkeys and hating this corporate Heart of Darkness in which his wife had drowned.

He heard the waves without television or car sounds in the background. He just heard the sighing, relentless waves and felt the purposeless, caressing winds of the night. His friends worried about him and tried to get him to date or remarry and start up a new life. His solitude unnerved them, this back turning on the world, his surrendering to something beyond language and science, but he had opened to dimensions beyond their reach.

He was functioning, he wasn't a basket case, but his despair had become absolute and the world had lost its hold on him. He didn't just leave the details of the world, this or that relationship, this or that profession, he left the WORLD, the universal game of things, the core rules and axioms of the human condition. And he left 'himself' -- that which was never real in the first place. This was less finding himself than experiencing an ISness which had never been lost. Nothing was achieved; nothing was received. This was the never missing, the unloseable. And the game was no longer worth the candle. The game was no longer worth the candle. Such point of no return despair is the killer of delusion -- the ONLY killer of delusion.

Virgil: And so where does this leave us, since there isn't any 'us' or 'where'?

Carlotta: May I ask you something?

Virgil: Ask away.

Carlotta: Who are you? Or if you're not Virgil, WHAT are you?

Charles: Oh Jesus Christ, Carlotta, of COURSE he's Virgil, who the hell else would he be?

Tom: No, I think I'm seeing this, I think I'm seeing this. He's not Virgil because there isn't any 'he'.

Charles: Shit, don't tell me you're BUYING this weirdness. This is just a bunch of talk and that's ALL it is.

Is that what you think? Yes you, the reader. What do YOU think? Where's this writing coming come? Are you certain it's coming from a self conscious, intellectualizing author? And are you certain your self image identity is a perfect mirror of who/what you ultimately are? Let's say that identity is COMPLETELY FALSE. Does that mean the universe is no longer universing? And if life itself is saying these things, then who/what is going to listen if there's no one to listen? We can write plays, poems, and novels until the cosmic cows come home, but nothing is being one upped thereby.

But perhaps this is a little like talking to someone who thinks they're Napoleon, since anyone who thinks that is going to hear everything as coming from the same world as that delusion. But that doesn't mean that it is . . . does it?