Monday, October 25, 2010
We all have those days, born from the frustration of merely existing, where we experience the most bizarre and upsetting realities. Everyday, as I walk the streets of New York City, I pass the writhing, dirty masses of the underworld, of a subterranean landscape of mental illness and social irresponsibility. We can walk by, walk away, but no matter where you turn, it finds you and confronts you. Humanity is a twisted souless thing, and the depths the mind will go in sickness and the effort of running away from expectations... are unfathomable.
I watch it, I consider it, but sitting in the midtown library, at 40th street and 5th avenue, I have been graced with the profound and terrifying and cannot turn away. I find myself paralyzed in mutual fascination and horror, as a woman in her late 40's plopped her unwashed body across from me, and has slowly acted out complicated and overlapping story lines. It is like watching one person act out a kipling short story, a cut away from alice in wonderland (including graphic descriptions of brain tissue being ripped out and losing herself in her cerebral cortex), an argument with a wheelchair bound dead father (how dare he try to steal an elephant's identity and give pieces of her brain away to other people to utilize), be shocked into sobs, inform herself there was no wicked witch's castle, because the wizard and wicked witch took up residence in allison's labia (which was only for her husband's use, privately), manifest a british accent, discuss the depravity of the british royal family, asking to be removed from the russian crown and turning down 100 billion dollars, of tits being ripped off, being in a courtroom pressing charges for attempted rape, sodomy, and murder, and dictating someone's foreign policy in regards to saudi arabia. But to be clear, she did state that she does not want to live with her daddy in the 1950's. She wants to live in her own time period. I can understand that.
The power of her conviction, the breadth of the stories being acted out in her helpless frame... shock me. That something can bubble up so concrete and perfectly formed from the recesses of our brain, entire lifetimes of non existent memories can wrack one person's body like truth...
And I sit here, as the stories continue to pour out of her ample, impassioned, and pungent frame. Accents, sobs and physical blows shuddering out of her as she plays every single role, from a dead father figure to phantom almost-husbands, sisters, judge, lawyers, royal families... and I actually sit here, bearing witness to this. This is the stuff of nightmares, of a bygone era where writers spent their nights in opium dens and their days obsessing over little girls, to eventually write stories about them delving into other-worlds of childish fancy with Freudian overtones... the power of the human brain to manifest realities, to hold on to pieces of information and weave together elaborate contexts and torture the uneducated and lost soul sitting before me with a cacophony of other people's imaginary lives.
In the lunacy of this day, there is a woman wandering around loudly and tearfully distraught over her lost library card, like a child had been ripped from her womb, and an insistent sound of a bullfrog I finally realized is emanating from the old man using the typewriter at the end of the table I sit at in a state of shock.
This is reality folks.