Fox Shapeshifter Dream

It started with me bugging out again, assembling supplies as I made my careful escape from civilization in the process of collapse.

Having escaped, I was sitting in the woods taking a breather and I saw a fox. It saw me. It was curious, it came over and turned out to be a Mayan kid in a leopard mask (not a jaguar mask) and then his whole family was with him and they all wanted to be friends and I was stumbling to remember my Spanish as they spoke to me in English.

De Quincey

Homer is, I think, rightly reputed to have known the virtues of opium.

–Thomas De Quincey, Confessions of an English Opium Eater

Finally the moment has arrived for me to appreciate De Quincey. I’ve waited years, I’ve namedropped him in stories, I’ve wondered what it was Borges saw in him. But I stayed away until now, when a narrative about the pathologies of addiction carries lessons I’m actually ready to taken in. Serendipity. Fate. The grinding of the great wheels.

De Quincey is a windbag. The book is blissfully short and would be shorter if not for caveats, preambles and convoluted ex-chronological asides. And I’m reading the 1821 original, not the 1856 revision where from even further illusionarily objective remove he added yet more windbaggery. Still, I now completely understand Borges’s fascination. Because De Quincey’s mind–thanks in no small part, no doubt, to the opiates–is a labyrinth.

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The Monastery in the Woods

I dreamed again of the ruinous Buddhist/Benedictine/Mayan monastery in the nonexistent rocky wilderness off High Street in Westwood. It’s been a long time.

Awed visitors meandering through hilltop temples and colonnaded passages came upon apocryphal relics of their own past, worn objects invested with vast emotional weight from childhoods half remembered but never lived. A tyrannosaur-headed throne presiding over a room full of plaster skeletons with windows looking out on stony, forested cliffs. A white-shrouded dining room crowded with old books and toys, the air aglow with dust motes. A corked ceramic bottle in the shape of a precolombian idol, the effervescent drink within a swirl of heady beer and butterscotch liqueur. All of it carrying the atmosphere and reverence of a shrine.

My father walked with me, quietly affirming the truth of these fictional histories, and I thought of giving up worldly pursuits, donning a brown habit like the holy men I’d seen, in order to curate and protect these mysteries from the encroaching world and those who would shatter their significance with questions.