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Pictures of the Third World

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In the context of the third world -- and here I'm not talking about "third world" in terms of wealth and economic advancement, but "third world" in terms of the world before the present one that's winding down, due to end in (May?) 2012 -- darkness was substance. Not the fire that it was in the first world, not the stone that it was in the second world, not the weighty airy liquid that it is in the present, but something between clumpy sand and a gelatin made of seawater.

You could push your way through it. It sealed behind you, like quicksand closing over your head. But behind you. At every step.

More creatures flew then, too, but it was easier, more like swimming. If you were a creature of darkness.

It was gritty and got in your eyes, like sand. It's one of the many reasons the last world was worse than this one. Darkness blinds us in this world too but it doesn't hurt as much. It leaks quietly into the eyeballs and builds up until our eyes are full of darkness.

Much of the evil in the fourth world is both gentle and insidious. It is a mark of our refinement.

At least in the third world you could find joy by shoveling the darkness aside, by thrashing until you were on top of it. You could squint your eyes and slap it aside. You could even press it into balls and throw it like snow You could fish creatures out of it and they would be happy, even when you klilled and ate them.

In our fourth world, darkness is volatile and superfluid. It expands to fill any container it enters, yet it stacks on the ground in shards like layered panes of broken glass. You can fill bottles with it, but it seeps out. You can use it to lubricate stones for the purpose of sharpening knives. You can drink it and breathe it. If you are a creature of darkness.

In the next world, darkness will be like light, like electricity. It will seep into us and ride in our bones. We will pet our cats and transfer it with a zap.

We will sweep it out of the air with wool, with spun glass, with nets of metal and ceramic wire. It will blind us like lightning and we will glow with it as our vision fades.


Posted by Laszlo Q. V. St-J. Xalieri

27th Dec 2008, 20:24   | tags:


Dhamaka says:

Am going to have to think about this one

28th Dec 2008, 22:44

If you think it's worth it. ;)

I was in a pretty dark place when I wrote it, looking at some items of personal and cultural history, so apparently I thought it was a good time to start riffing on Mesoamerican creation myths -- as if I had any kind of right.

Having had my run-ins with serious depression, I can only say it seems that darkness -- the kind of darkness you can feel -- has definite weight and substance, but the nature of it changes with time....


29th Dec 2008, 18:21

Dhamaka says:

I do think so
interesting, because my experience with post traumatic stress is not like that. More like heavy emotionless inertia-full fog. But white or very, very light grey at worst.

another level/world? and in what direction...

29th Dec 2008, 22:19

My depressions have always been cliché like that, I suppose. A muffling darkness, a suffocating panic, only not quite panic -- like when you've pushed yourself too hard swimming underwater and you're trying to decide if a few more strokes will get you closer to the surface, but it's always been pressure and it's always been darkness, and the largest danger you're suffering from is the temptation (that's such a weak word here) of one or two minutes of peace.

That gray fog has always been associated with a kind of pathological hopelessness to me distinct from depression -- no real temptation to give up and end it, but a kind of lack of ability to focus on anything but a pointless present, disconnected from any meaningful activity in the past and unable to influence in any kind of positive way the future. A lostness, a pathlessness.

It's different from depression, because for depression (for me, anyway) there's a desperate need for metaphorical motion that's being actively frustrated. To continue the drowning metaphor, you know you need to get to the surface, even if you're not sure which way the surface is or what you have to do to get there....

In any case, the myths I'm drawing from have always kinda used the analogy of climbing out of a hole from one world into the next, something akin to a cave-entrance in the ground every time I've seen it pictured. Imagine looking up and seeing a hole in the sky, and then finding a really tall ladder, and then at the top of the ladder is a world so different you may as well be on another planet.

The farther back in time I look, even just on my own timeline, the more it seems I must have actually left one world and entered another at least once. Maybe more than once. Sometimes, if I try hard enough, I can kind of even remember the feel of the rungs under my hands and feet....


29th Dec 2008, 23:24

Dhamaka says:

That last paragraph has such resonance, I feel it should be woven into the story somehow

Agree with 'graph 2 up to the last sentence... My PTS involved neither lostness nor pathlessness but simple (ha... simple!) paralysis

30th Dec 2008, 14:25

Simple. Heh. Yeah, I hear you.

I wish there was an easier way to reverse what having your neurons drenched in cortisols will do to you. Those changes could actually be beneficial if we were living in the savannah with lions in the grass -- but when neither fight nor flight is an option, we just start dying inside to make ourselves less a burden on the herd/troop, to make room for fellows who can possibly come up with something to help the situation.

It really sucks to be on the wrong end of that mechanism....

And I'm making a note of that last paragraph. I don't know about weaving it into this piece, but you might see it again. :)


30th Dec 2008, 16:47

Dhamaka says:


31st Dec 2008, 08:17