Saturday, October 9, 2010


Iris's little classmate is improving daily - eyes focusing, laughter, touching his mom. He's coming back, he's going to be coming back - it will take much longer than anyone wants it to ever ever, but he's going to do it.  When I see how well this little guy is doing now, I realize how my dad never really had a chance for a full recovery. But then, an 83-year old brain and a 6-year old brain are entirely different phenomena.  I remember hoping, daydreaming about a conversation in which my dad would tell me what it had all been like, to have been kind of here kind of there. But he's never made it far back enough to let me know.  This little boy will, but I realize now that there's really no way of talking about that return trip. You re-emerge. This little boy will re-emerge into his own consciousness, which is the coolest, most astoundingly miraculous thing to consider. He's already recognizing people, reaching out to them, knowing who they are.  My dad re-emerged into another consciousness, another personality altogether. I know the science for this, but it's never stopped feeling strange in all these seven years.  I keep thinking about the beautiful family of this little boy, of how loved they are, and (this is the odd part) of how much I want to protect them.

I keep having memories of events from the early days of dad's brain injury (memories I haven't thought about in forever) and I remember the feeling of this incredible oppressive presence - I guess you'd call it evil (which sounds a bit dramatic, but that's what it was, the sense that there was this bad, very very bad, heaviness all around). In the early weeks after Iris was born, this raccoon made its way into our garage and I could hear it bumping around down there while I was up in the middle of the night nursing her.  And it became this perfect allegory for that presence: this lumbering, hunched invader.  Mac trapped it (peanut butter) and drove it to the edge of town - and  that was that: it was gone. I still love thinking about that. All of the love that this family is being surrounded by just has to be a bulwark against that presence, that bad.  All of the local businesses have signs up for this little boy, there are thousands and thousands of visits to the blog that his parents are running, dozens of people go to see them every day, and hundreds of people write in the guestbook daily. Surely, hopefully, this will protect them, give them moments of peace and safety within all the new things to understand.  And in the midst of it all, the will of this little boy, making his way back.

So the image is of a dream vision that Jean Thenaud has of the terrain governed by Prudence (who is the rather incredible babe in the middle of the image - yes, that's milk).  It's the main image of my conference paper which needs to be done by Thursday morning (I leave Thursday afternoon). I've been living with this image and thinking about it for weeks now, and feel ready to write, even as I've felt completely split between thinking about this little boy (something I can't do nearly enough about), and thinking about work (something I should be doing so much more about).  Dream allegories are one of the most popular genres in medieval writing - a whole lot of works gets done when the Dreamer has his out-of-body experience.  Thenaud articulates (in thousands of pages) his longing for Jerusalem (and this is what I want to write about in here soon soon).  What I love is that, no matter how far away they go, or how complex their allegorical dreamscape is, these dreamers always make their way back.

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