Wednesday, 14 May 2008

"The Amphitheatre and the Torches."

She saw it every time she closed her eyes.

At first there had been nothing but the familiar absence of perception and a gentle sense of emptiness. There had been the old sensation that she’d often felt; the feeling that a simple lowering of skin insulated her from the entire world. The simple act of shutting her eyelids provided her with a cosy refuge from the absurdity of the world at large. Every liar, every cheater, every injustice, every fight, every war, every evil, every weakness. When she closed it eyes, it all went away.

Then the vision came: it had started three months ago randomly and inexplicably. Since then it had repeated itself consistently. She closed her eyes to escape and there it was: a sudden picture formed on the back of her eyelids that now she could not fail to see. Although she longed for her comforting refuge - longed with all her alienated soul - all she could see now was the amphitheatre. Closing her eyes no longer transported her to the private lounge in her head but instead to a sprawling stadium-sized arena; the most public place in imagination.

Every time she saw it her perspective was the same. She stood on the top row of seats looking down on the rest of what she’d come to think of as The Amphitheatre. It was like the arena where the Roman Emperor would watch slaves fight in those old gladiator films. Or like where Christians had been thrown to the lions and not rescued by their god. It was dark – almost totally dark; no stars shone over head and no moon cast a silvery glare. The only light came from weak torches held by the hundreds of thousands that stood on the rows below her.

It was these throngs of people that really got to her. She couldn’t see them but she knew them by their torches: sputtering wisps of flame permeating the darkness. They appeared as small and indistinct as stars except they lay below her feet rather than above her head. There were always thousands of them moving and jostling against one another, guided by the veiled hands beneath as the people of the darkness moved and jostled for some position of their own. It made her sad.

Although The Amphitheatre was a plethora of people and their weak torches casting spheres of light, the real mystery remained hidden in the impenetrable darkness that characterised the realm behind her eyelids. In the centre of the arena, many rows beneath her, there was a wide open space – ‘sandy’, she thought of it as a wide sandy space, probably the effect of psychologically embedded movie clich├ęs – and even though she couldn’t make out what was there she could feel it. Just as the Earth must feel the Sun’s massive presence, she could feel the raw power and magnitude of what lay in the centre of the Amphitheatre. She felt it as a vast bulk hidden just out of reach. The people below clamoured to shine their torches on it, each one approaching it from a different angle. If they saw anything, they saw only fragments: singular perspectives, each one part of but not representative of the whole. She had no communion with the people below and yet she thought that no-one down there knew the truth in the centre. Not one of the hundreds of thousands of people knew what lay shrouded in the darkness just beyond the reach of their feeble clearings of light.

No-one knew and it made her sad.

Every time she closed her eyes it was the same. The same circular arena. The same people, crowded and confused. The same mysterious presence in the centre. The same truth denied. She couldn’t do anything and she was sad.

She was sad because she knew what it meant. She was sad because she knew there was no escape from the world’s absurdity, either for her or the world.

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