Sunday, October 16, 2011

Cymbal #37:: The Strange Dream of Sir David Attenborough

[Since I cannot speak honestly about Siamese Dream, or the creation myth of Soma, I thought I’d ask a friend to share his thoughts]

Now that I am an old man, I don’t go to all the places I used to. I work from my house and from the studio and travel when I must. It would be unfair for me to feel any bitterness about this fact; I’ve seen more in my life than most, and more than I had ever dreamed of as a child. I would be churlish to complain.

But no man is truly the master of his own dreams, and sometimes I have a vision and when I awake in the morning, it does not disappear. When I marmalade my toast in the morning, it rises before me blue and green, and suddenly I can taste salt and I put my knife down carefully, because I am not confident of my ability to hold it steady.

The terrestrial face of the earth rises from the seabed in layers. From your green valleys down to your golden beaches, this is merely the thinnest layer of linoleum incised with a craft knife.

Come with me to where our world is thinnest, where the sunbathers lie about under sun umbrellas, smears of protoplasm on the sand. Let us walk into the water; there is something I want to show you.
For hundreds of feet, the water goes gently from waist deep to neck deep and there are small waves. The water closes over my head. I pull my mask on and blow out my snorkel. I gesture for the video crew to follow, and swim forward. The water gets deeper and darker, and coral beds color the ocean floor, washed in the fractured sunlight. Millions of tiny mouths open and close, and inhale millions of morsels of food, each of which were looking for even smaller food. These are the secret gardens of the forever hungry- there is never enough food to go around. From a cave in the coral, the face of an eel appears, its sneer sinister, its eyes small and darting.  Schools of angular blue and yellow fish graze, vacant and meaningless like pretty girls. They too will fall to predators like vacant pretty girls. A nurse shark noses across the brain coral like a nightmare.

Like a drunk man in a maze, I swim through the enchanted garden and then, I swim past the edge of the continental shelf and fall off the edge of the world.

The Smashing Pumpkins - Soma - 1993

For an endless moment I am paralyzed with fear. The tectonic plate of the continent falls away to the true floor, thousands of feet below. In the darkness lies the entire unknown ocean, where monsters hide, huge scaly beasts which are all mouth and tail. Here I do not belong, I am not safe or protected. I am only food, silhouetted against the sunlight on the surface like a scrawl of black ink.

This is the music of the depths, the songs of unknown monsters from the depths, the choirpit of the ocean. It rises spiraling from the dark below, its cold tentacles brushing against my thighs, its breath mineral on my lips. It is more real than I am. In this embrace, I can no longer tell who is the monster and what is the prey.

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