Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Imagination Times Two

This is a beautiful situation. It all started with my first imaginary visit to Skidrow. Then I explored the experience from every conceivable angle. I was thinking that might be it for me. That time would be my only taste of glory. From that point on it'd all be commentary.

There would be a certain joy in that. To live vicariously through the experiences of others is time-tested and honorable. It's what the professional historian does. He has no life of his own. He relishes the history that others have made. And of course we know from psychiatry that psychiatrists are constantly troubled by transferring their emotions to their patients and trying, usually in vain, to live in a more exciting fantasy world.

As for myself, if I could have been a librarian or museum curator, I would have been very happy, tinkering with the works of other men or the artifacts of society and culture in general. That is a life of commentary, because it involves a lot of explanation of definite facts and some generally agreed upon theories. But it also allows enough leeway that any fool who's been on the job for a while can make educated guesses and impress the rubes during tours. So you're not entirely tied down.

I could be happy with that, as I say. But since all this relates to my first imaginary visit to Skidrow, which was my own experience, it seems like I would be selling my potential short by merely commenting on it the rest of my life. The obvious question would be: Why not multiply your experiences? Now, after yesterday, I've proven it can be done! Hence my second imaginary visit to Skidrow, which had an excitement all its own. A very special excitement!

I'm just now rereading it. Wow! I wrote that? The thought of everything crumbling and dissolving like that is awesome. Someone might say that's just wish fulfillment. That because I was forbidden by others and my own scruples from going to Skidrow, why not dissolve it to attain victory over the temptation of going there? I won't even going to listen to the suggestion. Skidrow, I will confess, gives me a lot of pleasure. It would be my wish, actually, that Skidrow were much bigger, as it'd give me that much more to wonder at, scold, and avoid. That wouldn't make it a bigger temptation. It's just like how I said I liked to ride by the jail and see the ne'er-do-wells hanging on the bars. It hasn't been the same since they moved to the new jail, took away the public aspect, and instituted strict privacy rights.

I will contend instead that Skidrow crumbled in some way to thwart me from enjoying it. But there is a more objective side to its crumbling that is unrelated to me. The people there know they deserve judgment. So the disappearance of the patrons -- the pool players, the bartender, and the woman -- shows that they have received a word on their judgment, and were wise to escape. This was their true ideal, you see -- they knew better -- but they waited until it was almost too late. I'm stunned at this fact, that these lowlifes knew enough to get out, while I -- this is amazing -- lingered there in ignorance. The way it worked out was such that it seemed like I was destined to survive. But you can't ignore the fact that the crumbling and dissolving took place while I was still on the premises. My fascination was there but not the same conviction of warning that they had. So in that way it did crumble to thwart me.

Now, once we got toward the end of the block we see the flipside of the bar patron's experience. This is the reprobate -- a symbol perhaps of the devil -- who knows it's all dissolving but stays right in the thick of it and even in some real way is responsible for its collapse. My own sense of what's going on in that scene is this, that the scuzzy pizza guy is indeed responsible for the block's demise. But it means that he himself will perish in the collapse. Interesting!

It's really quite the scene. He's "opening and closing the oven repeatedly and laughing." He knows the penalty and hastens it with his rash actions. His laughter shows he's out of his mind in opposition to all that is right and fair. Then I conclude with an interesting italicized "Somehow..." I don't know how he's doing it or even why. But read it again: "Somehow he is destroying the only world he's ever known, this block." Powerful. Powerful stuff.

I love that. "The only world he's ever known." Is he a normal person? Apparently not. If he were normal, wouldn't he have known some other world? He surely would have had parents who didn't live in the pizza parlor. Surely he would have gone to school, and perhaps loved or at least lost at love. How did he wind up as a cook in a pizza parlor? These are questions either to be left to mystery or to be imagined at some point in the future when I'm not quite as exhausted. The way, though, that I say it -- "the only world he's ever known" -- if that's not an exaggeration, and it doesn't sound like it is, clearly preludes his being anywhere else but Skidrow. Is he above history? Is he a symbolic representation of evil? It seems likely, because who among mortals could have such a thing said of him?

Well, I am tired. But I made it. We made it, together! And my first burst of imagination -- my first imaginary visit to Skidrow -- has now met its match, rather its partner with my second imaginary visit to Skidrow. Life definitely goes on ... and I'm loving it!

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