Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Kaleidoscope Within

My mind has always been a kaleidoscopic torrent of surreal imagery: think Salvador Dali music video on fast forward. The images flash and flow, faster than I can note them all down:
  • Dude gliding through the air on a yellow rocking horse that has sleigh runners instead of rockers. He lands on the snowy downhill of a ski slope, and in a spray of loose snow goes skiing down the slope on the rocking horse.

  • The furry snake with wings, reared and snarling. Hsssss!!

  • Yellow five-pointed stars, as if cut out of construction paper, on a blue background; and laid over it all, a translucent layer of vibrant bright red.

  • My apartment in Durham, North Carolina, circa 1990: looking down on the old overstuffed armchair in the living room, as if from somewhere up near the ceiling.

  • In my own Hermetic language: "Ai, vorthoz ir iclnithis?" Rough translate: "Hey, why set it out on the lawn?"

  • Abstract image of a cowboy twirling a lasso in the air, surrounded by freehand "boomerang" or "kidney" outline shapes, part of the "early 1960s coffee table" design on a sheet of light yellow Formica.

  • Dark bronze sun in the sky, with a triskellion-medallion image stamped on the face of the sun. Dull metallic sound of a hammer being struck repeatedly on an anvil.

  • Marble pillar, like a Corinthian column six feet tall, standing in a back alley of a large city like Philadelphia. Few know of the pillar; but those who do, will come to the pillar in the back alley with a sense of wonder.

  • Ben Franklin, on a $100 bill, wearing sunglasses.

  • A gigantic reindeer, 8 or 10 feet tall at the shoulder, wearing a harness with bells and charging down the winter street at night. Reindeer antlers, snowflakes drifting down beneath the streetlights. People scrambling in terror to get out of the way.

  • A hail of winged boots falling out of the sky. Red boots, yellow wings, like winged Mercury boots, like something in a cartoon.

  • In my old high school math classroom, a man and a woman hold a large paper-covered hoop between them. A tiger jumps out of the hoop, through the paper, from nowhere.

  • The sound of piano music drifting across the moonlit lawn and down the slope to the river, back in the 1920s.

And that's not the half of it, those are just the items I catch in my net while many others flash by, uncaught. And as they pass in cavalcade, they're much more melded and melted together in the flow than breaking them out in a list makes them seem: flowed together, flowing one into another, in a vast quick-moving Neapolitan swirl.

An intricate tableau in my mind's eye, and I think if only I could catch or sketch or paint that on canvas, but then I despair 'cause it's gone, to be replaced by other tableaux just as vivid...

I mean, that's what the inside of my mind is like. Like a roiling multimedia equivalent of the Beatles' Revolution 9. And it goes on and on and on, a perpetual background to my mental processes. Like Revolution 9: 6:24-6:40 Intelligible speech (John/George, right): John: "Personality complex... industrial output... financial imbalance... the Watusi... the Twist..." George (left): "Eldorado" 6:32 George (right): "...pushing it between his shoulderblades..." Backwards piano loop (intro reversed?) 6:42 Marching band (left) 6:43-6:44 Intelligible speech (John): "Take this brother, may it serve you well..."

Hard to tell whether this is anything like what goes through the minds of other people, or whether it's just one more peculiar feature of my ongoing "radioactive core meltdown of the imagination." From conversations I've had with people on this point, I gather that some individuals think more in visual terms; others think more in verbal terms; some think in a mixture. But generally not in this churning, volcanic, cavalcade-parade hypersurreal flux...

Oh, I do find hints of it, and resonances with it, in some quarters: in Dali's paintings; in the pyrotechnic roman-candle prose of Jack Kerouac; in the occasional piece of rock music; in the philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce's account of "Firstness"; in Goethe's Farbenlehre, in poets as diverse as Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Dylan Thomas. And it's densely interwoven with certain other elements of my soul, my experiences with synaesthesia, "music" in repetitive background noise, hypnagogic and hypnopompic dreams, and mystical experience; to say nothing of my nigh-synaesthetic reactions to board games and card games, listening to the radio, slide rules, and the sound of a vacuum cleaner. Plus, last but not least, that language I created starting at age 13.

Still, it's just damn peculiar. To say nothing of its being an instant source of inward preoccupation on a quiet evening when I've nothing else to do. Watching the kaleidoscope inside my own head is better than watching a movie.

"Numbah nine... numbah nine... numbah nine... numbah nine..."



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes you amaze me. To put so easily into words what eludes me.

Ironically, I am the opposite of you. I don't have your thoughts, at least not awake. But my dreams ... Sometimes I wake up exhausted. I can't fathom how you manage having those thoughts all day!

When I'm awake I am capable of almost the opposite. Of emptying my mind so completely so as to concentrate on one thing so intently that I forget my own name!

And the image of a kaleidoscope is the opposite too, but the same. Its like watching colored vapors (bits of info) and they swirl into a ball, which gets packed tighter and tighter. Until its like a vivid solid stained glass sphere. The longer and tighter I hold it together the more I remember after it shatters.

This is why I don't do academic stuff anymore. That kind of focus takes the kind of time that precludes "mommying" four kids. Its also why I don't do scary movies. Those are images I do NOT need in my dreams!

Thursday, September 28, 2006 10:59:00 PM  

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