Thursday, August 18, 2005
Back in the early 90s, back in those crazy days following my graduation from the University of Wisconsin– Stevens Point, I fell in the strange habits of coining new terms, or what I thought were new terms at the time. The terms included: the Voidman, which became the title of my first volume of poetry, Mindscapes, which was the title of my first real attempt at a diary, and Shadowdreamer, the title of what I can only describe as an alternate diary.
Going through the yellowed pages of this “alternate diary,” in a rare opportunity at remembrance these days, shadowdreaming appears as possessing two interrelated meanings.
In the literary sense, shadowdreaming seems to be the practice of letting oneself fall into a state of near-madness and then writing everything that comes to mind. Everything, no matter how mad it may sound. For the whole purpose of the exercise is, in fact, to decipher the deeper complexes lurking within one’s psyche, guiding his every action and whim by approximating and dabbling with madness without sinking completely into it.
In the more philosophical, or rather, psychological, sense, shadowdreaming is to speak with the authority of a god while possessing none of his powers and while knowing and acknowledging this fact at a certain deeper level. In a sense then, you are speaking with the authority of a god while simultaneously ruing the lack thereof, and, consequently, excusing yourself from acting, from participating in life, because life is a mess, and you are not a god, so you cannot put it in order, and so you don’t have to act. In fact, you’d better not act. You cannot clean up the mess. You might even make things worse, if you try.
Admitting that I was a Shadowdreamer, and regretting the fact thereof, is what got me back to Syria in 1994, and what got me started on this whole “dissidence business.” I just wanted to traverse that formidable distance from shadowdreaming to visionary, I guess. I still do. I never belonged to the shadows, and never well. That is exactly what I will leave Syria soon – what drove me back is driving me away.
To give more of an idea of what Shadowdreamer is about. This is a rather telling entry, dated December 6, 1993; 2:05am:
“This is a last ditch attempt to save my sanity. Are we clear on this?”
“Yes. We are.”
“So, how are we going to start?”
“Let’s begin by talking about ethics. This seems to be the crux of the matter, isn’t it?”
“Yes it is.”
“Well then, let me start by saying that, personally, I think they’re a beautiful construct, a beautiful construct that has often proven impractical. I mean, how often do we have to find ourselves in that most notorious of situations where the heroic action, the needed action, is, in essence, quite unethical? So unethical, in fact, that we are forced to reverse the very polarity of our minds so as to see it as the most ethical of all actions possible? Why can’t ethics work without such mental stratagems, the way they’re supposed to?”
“Frankly, I don’t know. But I’d like to draw your attention to the fact that ethics are not the product of one mind. They, rather, come from the minds of many a pure spirit whose own quirks of soul must be mirrored in his/her particular ethical construct. And the question to me is not ‘why can’t ethics work the way they are supposed to,’ but ‘why can’t we all be pure spirits?’ Why can’t we all take part in building and upholding the ethical constructs necessary for our survival, instead of letting a minimal percentage of us usurp this responsibility?”
“Do you have a better answer?”
“There was a time when I thought I did. But that was long ago.”
“Not that long, remember?”
“Well, it certainly feels like it’s been a long time. But all this doesn’t matter anymore, does it? It’s going to be over soon. Judgment is coming. I’ve lost this battle long ago. It’s too late for last ditch attempts.”
“You know what I think?”
“No. But I’m sure you’re going to tell me.”
“I sure am. Not so long ago, you used to be a life-affirming man, sure of yourself and your abilities, with plans and dreams like most people around you. Then, there were few mishaps, few wrong decisions, nothing major though. Yet, you crumbled. You let go. You were torn apart. And you know, this makes me think, although it might be too late as you’re saying: was this image...was this man real at one point, or was it all an act?”
“Do you want an honest answer?”
“Yes. For once.”
“It was all an act. I’ve always had uncertainties. My conscience was always burning inside me. I’ve always been...suicidal.”
“Yes, suicidal, like all conscientious people.”
“All conscientious people are suicidal?”
“Yes. All conscientious people are suicidal?”
“And if they are not suicidal, they are not truly conscientious, I guess. Right?”
“Indeed, something must be wrong with them.”
“You Know? I guess you’re right. It doesn’t really matter anymore. So, why don’t we both shut up and shadowdream together, while we can still tell the difference.”
“Between sanity and shadowdreaming?”
“Between sanity and shadowdreaming.”