Poore Richard's Really Poore Almanack

new independent columns weekly

From the Silence
31 October 2007

Overlap and collision – things in time and out of time; people in their right mind, people out of their minds: Halloween. The old people used to say that this is night the borderlines between the worlds melt like wax tears, the night when the past becomes present and comes back to haunt us, the time when that which we pretend is far away reveals itself as ever-present and due respect, if not placation.

It’s a night we usually smile off and ignore in these days of "more important matters." Oh, what need have we of our ancestral idiocy?
But the ancestor’s idiocy is yet with us in many ways: the costumes, the candy, the parties, the vague memory of a memory when the night was actually dark and life was a delicate matter, long before we thought we’d cheat old Kronos and Thanatos at dice for our lives. Years before we dreamed we’d send Koltho, Lakhesis, and Atropos a false address when they mailed us our winding sheet – before science made life a dream and rendered our fears neuroses and psychoses for which there are pretty pills and solemn professional rites.
And yet . . . the night has not been banished completely: there are spots between the streetlights, alleyways immune to headlights and neon. There are dreams, there are nightmares, and no amount of electricity or science or psychopharmacology erases any of this. Somewhere down in us, no matter how deep we sink the half-thought, we are eaten with the knowledge that, for us all, the borderline between ourselves and The Other will melt and does melt, and it overwhelms us with terror and awe.
We know that, one day, we, too, will be translated to another state, the state of a memory becoming fast forgotten. And it causes us to recall the memory of those who are now memories, forgotten, lost, suppressed.
Worlds within worlds, worlds beside worlds, worlds overlapping – the borders dissolve: Halloween, the evening of the holy dead, of daimons, angels, demons; the evening of our forgotten Fate.
Prepare a glass of wine and light the candles in the windows to guide the souls home. Set a table for Death and welcome him; make terms with him. Because, one night, he is coming to supper whether you like it or not: He will come in the long black car and take you to a feast from which you will not return – save for days like today when we light our candles and wear the images of the denizens of other worlds. Save for the days when old memories are welcome and we honor our fears, if not placate them.
If there is a holiday in honor of depression, our Saturnine mood, it is this one, the one when we welcome all that is dark and melancholy, we rejoice in it, we do not pretend it is an illness to be fled from – it is the one time we hold our darkness close and go through it to the worlds beyond; and, if we live, we live to be richer, more imaginative in our lives. And, if we don’t survive – well, we become the stuff of imagination for another day, another’s life, another’s dreams and nightmare visions.





Richard Van Ingram
Copyright © 2007, All Rights Reserved