By Brian George
Moebius revisited; our stories return from the world of light to haunt us
You wrote, “Historical and artistic references don't usually have much resonance in my own search...I'm certainly intrigued by the ‘What if’ question, as my own life seems to have been altered by late-term, arbitrary intrusions/suggestions/interventions by others. However, that interest is an offshoot of questions about ‘decision-making,’ and whether decisions, as generally construed, are actually possible.
“‘Decisions’ seem unrelated to acts of ‘free will’ and are generally simply retroactive explanations, justifications, rationalizations, etc. Is there some knowable nexus between events, meetings with mentors, etc., and what, for lack of a better term, is called ‘fate?’ Many of us have experiences of the type that you describe here. Does the acting out of such an encounter at the time—and especially in retrospect—simply constitute the fulfillment of a need—an addiction, really—for stories with a narrative arc?”
So, to summarize what I understand you to be saying: you distrust conventional modes of interpretation, whether artistic, historic, or personal, and suspect that the world may be a kind of three-dimensional Rorschach blot, upon which we project our needs. Yes, what appear to be “meaningful coincidences” do occur, but perhaps these have less to do with Fate than with our desire to read the random patterns of our experience as a narrative.
For many years I avoided telling stories, for reasons similar to your own; the bits and pieces of the contemporary world did not seem to fit together, at least not on the level that I lived. Events were signs, to be read, but it was clear that the Ur-Text—if such a thing existed—was not set up to be user-friendly. Then too, my stupidity did not seem like an accident. If our pea-brains are the result of random changes in our DNA, as we have been told, then why would we not be content with sex and food, instead of yearning for their metaphysical equivalents? Large scale myths had meaning for me, yes, but there appeared to be a gulf between the larger patterns and the smaller ones.
In August of 1986, however, I had an experience of being lifted out of the solar system by a tornado, as I mention in “A Brief Biography,” for “energetic realignment by a race of acupuncture manikins.” In a kind of anteroom to the created world, I was shown the wheels which contain all of history, in which the beginning, the middle, and the end of every story are perceived as being simultaneous. Upon my return, after crashing through the roof of my apartment building, I had the sense that everything around me was about to spontaneously combust. I reached up and out to touch the lamp beside my bed, but had to yank my fingers back; the metal was too hot to touch.
For weeks, I kept finding evidence of a change. Shelves of books at the Copley Square Library appeared to have been moved, and everything in my neighborhood was just a little bit off. As in the movie “Dark City”, some things had been added, and other things left out. A subtle breach between dream and waking had occurred, which rendered both terms obsolete. The gulf between the upper and the lower worlds began to seem like a theatrical effect.
A revolution had occurred by night. My family, friends, and countrymen were unaware that a change in the narrative voice had removed the Earth from beneath them. For my own part, I felt seized and violated by my subjection to the small hands of the larger pattern. But then again, it would be easy to convey the wrong impression; the experience was one of equal ecstasy and fear. The seed of my current orientation had been planted: that our stories are more real than we are, and that the already complete story creates our lives retroactively.
Still, I can see the wheels, and feel the violence of the tornado, as the solar system tumbles into the three rings of an atom, and I can hear a soft voice asking, “Brian, do you know who I am?” I often wish that I had an encyclopedic memory—or, at the least, a half-way adequate one. Perhaps the Ur-Text operates on a need-to-know basis; it could tell us more, but it would have to kill us. Enough remains of the experience that I shiver when I think of it, as the force of the swirling energy begins to draw me back there.
(Illustration: Brian George, Time Spiral, 2004)