The following is an excerpt from my forthcoming novel (May 10 – Ecco Qua Press), Geillan A Prisoner’s Tale.
Ilyara stared with piercing black eyes. She no longer wore a mischievous grin. Instead her lips tightened in obvious concern. “What you saw was dark, yes? Better you see it now and begin to understand. That way, when the light comes, you will know where to shine it.”
“But I don’t understand any of it. What are these dreams I am lost in? I am less sure now that this mad journey hasn’t been one long nightmare.”
“No, I assure you. You are indeed here with Ilyara on a sea of ice. You have seen the things you think you have seen. And the dreams are true. Some are real and others aren’t. I cannot say which is which. But do not waste your remembrances of them. So that you remember, tell me your first dream, before you met the white bear and kind Ilyara.”
Geillan struggled to an elbow and swallowed water that Ilyara offered. With faraway eyes he cast his mind back to that first vision he saw. It seemed as if he had walked inside it again, and every detail returned to him.
“I sat up in the curragh and saw that the sun had disappeared. The moon was nearly full and was directly above me so that everything was visible, but the colors were all shades of blue and white.”
Dreams, fantastic stories, myths, legends…these seem to be a vital part of the human experience. We are storytelling animals. We need to translate events into narratives. Some themes are archetypal and found in many cultures’ mythologies and histories. Some are more personal, they mean something only to us. A dream that we know somehow matters but we can’t put our finger on it, or a story that strikes a chord so deeply that we are taken aback by the emotion it inspires.
It seems that whether we are stuck in some ancient past, as I am to a degree, or whether we revel in our postmodern existence enamored with every new tablet (not the stone kind) or Apple product, we need stories. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t have millionaire narcissists sequestered in the Hollywood Hills. We wouldn’t have millionaire country music songwriters. My concern is: how do we choose which stories to tell? How do we select which heroes and villains to mythologize? If we choose wrongly in the name of “entertainment?” what is the impact on our culture at large and on our own souls?
A few decades ago we mythologized Rambo and Terminator and Bruce Willis in Die Hard. Did the telling of the these stories and the deification of the muscular man-boy with a machine gun soften our hearts toward war efforts which we now know had nothing to do with our well-being, but in fact had to do with oil, wealth, and power? Why is our culture so in love with telling stories of graphic torture – from movies like Saw and Hostel to shows like 24? What will this incarnate or is it already? Then what of the all the narratives we consume and re-tell that deify youth and beauty, denigrate human sexuality, trivialize everything and anything into a sarcastic morass?
My opinion? We would do ourselves a service by choosing better stories. There might be a reason why, after 9/11, our country seemed desperate for a bit of mythology with depth and illumination like the Lord of the Rings trilogy. We will incarnate the stories we tell, and of course vice-versa. It seems to be a feedback loop.
As my wise character, Ilyara, says, dreams are true. Whether or not they are “real” may be less important. If we treat our dreams and narratives like fast food, we do so at our peril.
So, for my part, I want to tell stories that scatter light and beauty, and alter the feedback loop. I hope you will join me.