Dreamed 1986/6/6 by Chris Wayan
I just reread LILITH by George Macdonald. It's eerily dreamlike for a nineteenth-century novel; its ideas anticipate Jung by decades. There's an Alice in Wonderland quality too; but then Lewis Carroll was a friend. Less explainable is the whiff of Kafka--or Philip K. Dick.
The weak and conventional Mr. Vane moves into his ancestral home which turns out to be rather larger inside than outside (like many of us). A Raven leads him into a shifting world of riddles and mirrors and moonlight and tribes of lost children. And Lilith, the first rebel.
And Vane learns: no way out but further in.
I'm sitting in the ruins in a slow rain, with the Little Ones. We're squatting by a chimney, trying to start a fire. Something keeps telling me we can't, or it's wrong to, but I keep trying. A tiny box of matches, battered and rhomboid now. Almost no tinder either -- the Little Ones found some tiny twigs and straws and some airy, cigarette-sized objects--are they dowels of balsa wood? I keep trying -- a twig will often catch and smolder down its length, even transfer its flame to another, like the Buddhist notion of reincarnation (as I align them and blow tensely)... but they gutter out, never setting the pile aflame. Still, a bed of hot coals is growing... well, warm soot and ash. Will we reach critical mass, or run out of matches?
Dizzy from puffing, I let the Little Ones work on the fire a while, and toss bits of bread to the birds, perched on the crumbled wall-tops, and hopping in the weeds. It's good to feed them. "Everyone has a bird-self" said Mr. Raven, in "Lilith."
A huge squirrel appears and drives the songbirds away. Fully the size of a cat--to a songbird it must look like Godzilla.
Then a bird sails in and lands on the ruined chimney. A man-size bird! Squirrelzilla squeaks in panic, and flees. An Owl with a fierce beak glares down, its huge, intense green cat-eyes staring into mine. It's ash-gray, with a faintly barred body... but up its flanks run luminous yellow racing stripes! As if the Owl is some sports car!
And I know it's my bird-self, my guardian. This is the bird that comes to me, as the Raven did to Mr. Vane.
I fear the fierceness of my guide--and I have nothing to feed it but... bread.
A NOTE IN THE MORNING
Nothing to feed it but bread? Oh. I'm saving money, for the first time in my life, but... riches in heaven? Not much. No fire in my life! I am not meant to spend my life working in suburbia.
LATER THAT DAY
I'm gardening when my neighbor Marianne suddenly pops out of her cabin to say "I hung up food for a songbird that's been visiting, but a big squirrel came and stole it all."
A friend drags me out to an outdoor play in the city park. It's a musical called "Manifold Destiny." It's by the Caravan Traveling Theatre, a troupe that wanders the West Coast in horse-drawn wagons. The play's about a man who's half-car--a satire on the cult of speed. But that's all background for me--I'm gaping at the set. It's by the underground cartoonist Spain. He's into sculpture and set design now. For Manifold Destiny, he's built looming cyborg effigies of the animal totems of America--the spirits of our cars, watching over us:
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