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Holy Harp

Dreamed 1994/3/22 by Chris Wayan


My friend Xanthe calls me. Ah, but what does she call me, you ask? She calls me Monkey.

See, Xanthe's been reading "A Diary of the Western Regions," also translated as just "Monkey." She noticed a certain resemblance. "Your brilliance leaps ahead of your feelings, and mocks and interrupts them! You actually HARASS yourself! Or, well, your brain harasses your soul... "

I tell her how ashamed I felt last week when I realized I literally couldn't imagine myself in bed with anyone I know--not more than once, that is. Who'd sleep with me twice? Manic, unfeeling, I exhaust even me.

Xanthe gets mad. "You assume your feelings are unworthy, stunted, cold, but you're wrong. Neglected, yes, teased and squashed by your monkey-mind, yes, but these "bitter" "negative" feelings may be deep, realistic assessments of people: the self-defenses you've sought for years. And they aren't all bitter or negative: I've noticed whenever you reach a place of deep tender feeling, you'll jump to something screamingly funny. Monkey!"

True. Right after she tells me, I do it several times on the phone without noticing. Trivializing feelings that might be mocked.

Is that all my humor is? Kissinger-esque deniability! Shit.


I'm in Santa Cruz, California. Back in America it was spring, but time is different here. It's late summer, days are shortening. Next month the dark will start closing in. But it's hard to tell exactly because the names of the months have changed; the Cruzians use names like those in the French Revolution, but shorter: Calora, Vento, Verda, Plue.

They also have a sacred harp. Whenever it plays, light and dark and sun and rain become perfectly balanced, and the land for miles around becomes green, the green of spring. It lasts for days, a holiday from summer drought or winter rain. Sketch of a dream by Wayan: silhouette of a girl with hair tied back playing a small Greek harp.

The harp is sacred to the Goddess. It's passed on from one woman to another. The current Harper is new, and unwilling to play publicly; says she's still learning. People are complaining it's been too long without the Song.

"Sun, sun shining on the water
Waiting on the other side
Son, son, soon you'll see the Mother..."
I always thought the words sentimental; but the tune and harmony give me the shivers every time. I want to hear it from the Harper.

We're in a kitchen. The new harper used to be a fashion model who quit. She wanted more, she wanted depth. First she went kind of punk, then suddenly became the Harper in confusing circumstances. She's sexy, but a little sleazy, not what I expected for a Harper. I kind of like her though. I ask why I don't even hear her practice. I want to hear the harp even if she's not ready for the public yet.

She glares at me silently a while, then blurts out "I can't play it!" I'm bewildered. "I... I stole it. Nothing was going right, and I thought maybe this would make me famous and I could do something important. So I stole the harp. But I dunno how to play a fucking harp! I thought it'd be easier than electric bass, but it's not. All those strings... the goddess is gonna KILL me for stealing it. I can't play it, I can't return it, I can't pass it on without playing it, people will know I was a fake. I'm trapped! The old Harper is dead. I wish I was."

I'm appalled at first, but I feel some sympathy for her. I suggest "You could pray to the Goddess to give you enough musical ability so you CAN learn the harp if you push yourself. You could become legitimate. Maybe you ARE legitimate, maybe you were meant to have it. It's to Her advantage to have the Harp working; why shouldn't she forgive you, if you do your job? Even if you're not a good musician you could become a passable one, and with the Harp that's all it takes. You could retire soon if the pressure's too much, pass it on to someone good, and you'd be in the clear--could get the singing and acting roles you want. This isn't the end of your life, it's the beginning!"

Silhouette of a girl with hair tied back playing a small Greek harp; dream image by Wayan. Click to enlarge


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