Ceaselessly into the Past
I have an old dream so vivid that some moments I reckon it to be an actual memory and it’s possessed by the current of a river rustling rapidly underneath a heavy fog drawn as clouds of Hell, and bursting through the darkness emerges a slow, electric green gaze, like the eyes of a material God.
Understanding our dreams is not much different than interpreting fiction, it’s a fleeing and elusive concept, nuanced, a beautiful if haunted image possessing the senses and unconscious into a realm of discovery and revelation.
The importance of literature seems to be found in embracing the torment of our past, the river of our souls--history itself through fiction displays a much more monumental and even truer version of subject and material--so to bring us from underneath the depths of heavy waters, or at least give us peace in drowning.
What is the Civil War and the South without Faulkner or Toni Morrison, the meaning and purpose behind the angst of a self-proclaimed bastard generation without Kerouac or the horrifying humorous truth of the American West and backwoods southern Appalachia without Cormac McCarthy. Fiction puts down a record of historical marker much more significant than textbooks filled with facts and dates, exploring instead the possibilities of space and time while reckoning all the while the realities and pain that even though the world we live in feels infinite, the world as we know it, is awfully constrained.
I first learned the beauty and brilliance of fiction in a high school class reading and discussing The Great Gatsby. The poetic prose runs and cuts through the pages like the colorful scales of a trout swimming through American rivers. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s talent and genius would ultimately cost him his sanity.
Because of his sacrifice and will to the written word, the world has received a remarkable testament and document of the tragedies of the American Dream. The roaring 20’s, the dust-scoped and end-of-times Great Depression, which The Great Gatsby seems to somehow prophesize.
Throughout the novel, the protagonist sees the green light of a ferry across the river, something he wants so fully and wholly to grasp and feel and obtain. The light flashes, and as quickly as it spans from its source to eye sensory, it disperses and is gone.
Fitzgerald gives us a prose so related to our own conscious and heart, that I often forget if this poetic image is a dream I’ve had or an actual event I’ve experienced. It becomes something greater than merely a passage I’ve read. It sends electric shrills through my body, turning me cold and dripping in sweat simultaneously.
With beauty and color, senses and the dreams woven through prose, fiction comes to the rivers of our soul, the blood in our flesh, beating onward, again and again through hellfire and sucks, deeper and deeper into the unknown from which it might pull us up and take us all the way yonder.