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VOL 3. NO. 37 Monday, October 1 - Sunday, October 7, 2001
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"I tried to speak, to answer, but something heavy moved again, and I was understanding something fully and trying again to answer but seemed to sink to the center of a lake of heavy water and pause, transfixed and numb with the sense that I had lost irrevocably an important victory."

Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

Like any slumber there is an end point of waking. I am an optimist - a believer in the waking. Everybody wakes up: the question remains as to the appropriate moment that happens, or the time when it is too late for any substantive realization to occur. But, it happens ... either early during first light or footstep. That is a time, indeed, of woeful and heartbreaking regrets. However, it matters not as long as it is recognized and then perpetuated in spirit.

A teacher, once explained sleep as "temporary death." Each twenty-four hour day, according to the Grandmaster, consisted of three eight-hour segments identifiable by certain fundamental actions: first work, then play, and later sleep. These three segments, as distinct and separate as convention would conclude, were as related and physiologically stitched as Siamese twins - but, sleep ... ahhh: sleep is the most problematic because it can subtly penetrate the domain of the other two states of existence without betraying or compromising itself. It spends the majority of its time finding ways in which it can impose its wearisome and idle impressions on the rest of the universe, without even a quaint slip in technique. Hence, sleep is what - at least - I try to avoid. Yet, there is the issue of being ... or feeling trapped within a humanity of sleep, a treacherous and indignant wave of laziness complimented by lack of routine and cerebral exercise. This is the world we persistently defy despite its obvious satisfaction with the lulled state of affairs. We continue taking long walks as way to comfort our troubled souls.

Growing up as I did, there was no true understanding of my peers' life positioning. At a very early point in childhood, prior to the formative years, myself and others condescendingly referred to it as simple stupidity. Raw foolishness devilishly mixed with a devastating dose of ignorance. Perhaps, in some ways, we were right - or we only found an intrinsic way to make us wanting or craving to seem right, because being right was comfortably fashionable in its opposition to being wrong. Being wrong was in the demented galaxy of contrast to being right - or, really, it was being superior.

No ... we were puppets of our desires falsely claiming stewardship over each other's fate when our innermost pleasures really ran the show. These pleasures determined the extent of any ongoing relationships with the many whom despised us as the talented few.

"Those were the days ..." a good friend breathed, then coughed in an effort to exorcise freshly baked, but charred memories. "Speak for yourself," I disagreed. That was when we were akin to foreign missionaries in a distant land, yet a distant land darkened as a dream of a distant land discredited by the deplorable fact that it was home. Not necessarily a den of iniquity, but by chance of universe, shoot of crap and show of hand it became within the span of our realization, a home. However, we daily suffered at the punishing fists and fury of our peers, our young indigenous brothers of pre-adolescent stage who faced fear of collective cultural insecurities through channeled and targeted cruelty toward us.

At that time, depraved of mature reasoning, we were literally bruised - mentally and physically - for an understanding. Our busted lips and bloody noses were stark testament. Such unchaste acts resisted logic, therefore we accepted it as the twist of circumstance and the positioning of ourselves on some profanely disguised social ladder we did not have the leisure of discovering or mastering. Those days, while conceding defeat to the forces of fist over diplomacy, we would stare at each other like virgin equestrians dismayed and overwhelmed by the unrestrained power of a mad horse. Flung and pushed to the ground, the outer layer of our hard skulls scratching the gravel between the cracks on the sidewalk, we stared intently into the pupils of our eyes even as massive streams of magenta spilled into the pit below the brow. Control of pain was as important as control of the situation before us; the perpetrators of our agony knew only the augmentation of the former. Therefore, it was incumbent upon the inflicted to make peace with that which inflicts - rather than closing the firm path of necessary force that was required during these limited, barbaric and street-wise engagements. It was not that we were afraid of the perpetrators - our anxiety and reservation towards tactical response may have been driven by a fear of our striking familiarity with the fear before us: that fear can with little difficulty, be ultimately absorbed and transformed into animalistic rage. That fear realized pain had easily tempted us into an almost carnal collaboration. Thus, we feared what that psyche-driven transition was capable of doing to our weak-minded friends beating us into aggravated submission like slaves before a Roman crowd.

The beastly impulses of civilization - or "man" - are never inhibited by time or passing cumulus of history. They remain stored, indifferent to regional, religious or racial root, in the farthest incisions of our consciousness, trigger-locked, but cocked and ready at that moment of psychotic revelation of pleading request. This I know. It is the appearance of the ensuing tantrum that differs from one individual to another. However, its directive stays the same, whether or not it is physical or emotional. We learned this the hard, bone-knocking way at the most early - hence, the most unfortunate - age. What is most compelling is that rage is most obvious according to the youthfulness of its wearer. Rage is very child-like, child-minded ... child-motivated by immature passions defying reason as fallen angels defied God. That is why children can be incomparably cruel and unjust, to no fault of their own. Reason has not established itself yet; logic is both unharnessed and typically unknown. We expected these actions as much as we anticipated eventual death, and so began our intimate, albeit cynical, observations of humanity.

Humanity (we learned as experience cultivated a volume full of lessons) was a misused term purposefully taken out of context. A denial of what we were before we were even there. Humanity is a relative concept, you see. The soothing sound of it on presumably well-intentioned tongues does not necessarily provide the hidden Eleventh Commandment to total claim on the Prom ised Land. Humanity is as evil as it is good because humanity is the complete package of being ... human.

"We are not human beings struggling to be spiritual," a preacher once boomed hard during a Sunday morning philosophical back flip from the pulpit. "We are, in fact, spiritual beings struggling to be human." In that instant, as the congregation swelled with the mood and an organist performed melodic cadence on every syllable spoken, the preacher seemed to expose a strange lack of idealism generally absent in most modern men of the cloth. He, instead, opted to shake and rattle religious convention and presented this new theory as reality; how much he was aware that traditional three thousand year-old notions of humanity were sliced and vilified in an hour's worth of sermon remains a mystery to us. But, what is now realized is that there was nothing original in his assertion. The centripetal powers-that-be had known this for centuries, yet chose censure in place of true enlightenment. Unrestrained social decay is then prompted by the gradual lifting of the curtains.

C.D. Ellison is a contributing writer to Metro Connection. He can be reached at againstthegrain@metroconnection.info.

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