The Somnambulist

The grey light that precedes the dawn seeps under doors and window frames, billowing through the air like smoke off wet wood. It is cold and biting, possessing an astringent quality that addles mind. Is it light or darkness that is encroaching? Time itself is seemingly in flux. And the somnambulist is caught, like some doomed footman in an eons-old pitched battle: unable to distinguish his brethren from his rivals, unable to tell whether his cause advances or retreats.

What terror reverberates in that moment, caught out of time by a confusion that clouds even identity? In that hazy state, which hovers somewhere between waking and dreaming, who can say what is real? The potency of emotion calls from the warped chasm where hopes and passions and flights of fancy vie with the sober starkness of reality. Which is substance and which a phantasm conjured up by those long-lingering primal fears the rational mind can so easily brush off, but which cling stubbornly to the less self-sure self-conscious? Truly, this is the witching hour, when the imagination’s illusions glisten against the monotone backdrop of dawn, the contrast making the seductive promises of fantasy seem all the more warm, all the more alluring. How harsh must reason’s constraint seem, how miserly and parched, a thing belonging to the age of hoary stoics, long since buried and turned to dust in their graves.

Who would not, like Odysseus, turn their ship to the rocks and give in to pleasure with winsome abandon? It is another self, a mere shadow now—like the tracings of print left on a page pressed shut before the ink is full dry—which must face the reckoning of the choices of the daylight world.

More sober, they who can see clearly in the crisp, golden light of the suns first rays are better equipped to sort out dreary things such as consequences. Might they grumble that their existence is guided by actions not theirs? Certainly, for this is their prerogative, and it would seem petty to begrudge it them. They, poor bondservants, must reap the fruits which midnight’s revelries sow so recklessly. They must live in a barren world where light so clearly illuminates the planes and angles of line of each and every object, where beauty is not the mystery of obscurity, but the form which follows function. They have not the pleasure of unravelling the enigmatic shapes which populate the twilight zone and discovering the mysteries hidden beneath.

All content protected by copyright. The Politics of Discretion, 2016.