DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS
I am groping under my bed again for my Plaything. I would get on with my private pleasures while my authorities are preoccupied with their knock-down, dragged-out argument downstairs.
Of course I reach under the sagging springs with some trepidation. As every schoolboy knows very well, the Underbed has its frightening features. Demons and monsters lurk there. I used to be afraid to get out of bed in the morning lest some fearsome fiend grab me by the ankle, pull me under the bed and devour me.
I eventually discovered that my Underbed had many positive uses, which, in sum, outweighed its frightening aspects. The Underbed is a great place to hide prohibited things like my Plaything. Fortunately for kids, grownups are disinclined to get down on their knees with flashlights and strain their necks to find out what kids have hidden under beds. Maybe they are afraid to, or are just lazy, or maybe they are conservatives and liberals – I really don’t know why.
I don’t have an overall theory of the Underbed, nor do I want one. The Underbed is grotesque enough without my theory. Some investigators say that, not only is the Underbed a place to hide things, but it is itself a thingie that hides those things!
Well, I understand there are many unseen things, such as subatomic particles and invisible planets which we know are really there because the behavior of visible things around them tells us they are there even though we may never directly detect them with our finest instruments. That is all according to the law of something or the other, another strange thingie unseen itself and described by algebraic symbols. Still I think we would be awfully queer to suppose some active agent was trying to hide those particles and planets from us, don’t you? As for inner space, I suppose, figuratively speaking, that there might be an Underbed analogous to the ones in our rooms.
And, to give the Underbed the benefit of the doubt, I suppose it is alive with an idea and a will that we shall never fully comprehend, and that it might be hiding some really strange stuff from us which does, however, pop up occasionally, like the tip of an iceberg, or in some sort of ambiguous form we are ambivalent about. But I have no theory of the same, and, if I did, I would not care to present it, for theories of the Underbed, not having the benefit of thousands of years of sophisticated theology, are, in a word, ugly. But now that I am getting used to the Underbed, I will say a few things about the subject.
I prefer to fear seen things, not the unseen. I can place a sacred sign under my bed to direct the demonic traffic away, but a symbol might not suffice to stop a speeding truck. Therefore, when crossing the street, I look at the traffic I fear, and I observe the traffic signs I do not trust.
On the other hand, my Underbed, the more often I experience it, is not such a fearsome place after all. In fact, I keep my most favorite things there now. I must confess there are supernatural goings on Underbed. I have found several brand new toys which I did not deposit there, and the most recent issues of Plaything have mysteriously appeared.
Now since I am in a revelatory mood, I must confess that I think Big Mama is in charge of the Underbed. I mean the Goddess who inspires, preserves, and guides me in my flight as if she were my automatic pilot upon whom I can rely to keep me from going off course. She once cradled me intimately, but she put me down to tend to my kind. She preoccupied me with looking for myself hence I repeat myself in the search. She did not forsake the I that I think I am when she dropped me into the death spiral.
Therefore I am such as I think I am, and that’s not much at all any more, really. There is less and less for gravity to tug at my strings. The Underbed is not so scary now, but still the demon is pulling me under, and even more so. The Old Black Freight Train approaches. The Black Light at the end of the tunnel accelerates as it approaches Dear Me as I stand on the subway platform at some obscure station near the Underbed. Of course I am dying to live this life of an omnivorous walking worm with shark-scale teeth, groping around in the dirt for the very thought or shadow of myself; but in the final analysis, thoughts are all too pallid for me.
There is no other without me: Nothing is impossible. My oscillating, counterplotting counterpart, my jealous significant other, reflects my preoccupation with myself. Heedless of the call from Echo, the nymphomaniac of every pubile boy’s fondest dream, I dive into the pool, and I find myself cultivating daffodils in the gray field of asphodel. Perhaps then my excursus in the Underbed is a narcissistic excursion, a metaphysical perversion of the instinct to die, so that life might compose and repose on decomposition. Hence I persevere in perversion, with confidence that the Underbed makes no mistake with me – not with Big Mama in charge. Persephone pulled up a narcissus one day and was taken to wed in the Underbed, wherefore we are dying to live. Paradoxically, Narcissus’ narcotic serves not only as a palliative but as a potent antidote to the mal-ease suffered by dissociated in-divid-uals. Whom does the lover love when the lover looks into the lover’s eyes? And what is love? Love is our life. Echo, take Narcissus’ hand and lead him to the right place, for he is hard of hearing and his vision is clouded.
To that end I am, or so I think. But where am I? Yes, I was groping under my bed, I plunged into the Underbed, I have accidentally switched off my autopilot, and I am clutching for some clue. I must weave a rope or tell a yarn to exit the convoluted night of my existence.
According to the officious editors of Daylight Today, my yarn must get to a sharp point or I shall get nowhere. Yes, everything must have a sharpened point for pin-headed existence. The predilection for particular objectives, with straight and narrow paths to dead ends, undercompensates for the terrifying suspicion that there may be no way out of the labyrinthine network elaborated to imprison the bull-headed Minotaurus. [i]
Minotaurus devours narcissistic misfits, the forever young who are over-preoccupied with themselves and consequently resist the self-defeating system. Yes, the young at heart are his fare and fodder. Minotaurus’ minimum dietary requirement has compounded since ancient times, from seven boys and seven girls every nine years, to untold millions of children and adults every day – they have been “educated” to cast themselves into the self-defeating stockyards around the slaughter houses on a daily basis. Perhaps the scandal of Minotaur’s genesis, if frequently related, would serve to lie to rest the bull that is consuming so many selves, or at least provide the captives with enough yarn to escape, whereupon they may embark on independent escapades.
Aha! I have found an old toy under my bed, a toy Minotaur! Finally, a substantial clue! Now I shall grope about and apprehend whatever is at hand in Underbed, and follow the string of association until I reach the Exit.
Kansas City 2003
[i] Minotaurus is the monstrous offspring of a bestiality that is impossible without human invention. Pasiphae’s love for Minotaurus’ father – the White Bull presented to her husband by Poseidon – would never have been consummated or incarnated without benefit of the apparatus fashioned by Daedalus to make her into a cow for all bestial intents and purposes.