Escape into Simulated Realities
We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep
[William Shakespeare, The Tempest]
It must be a dream. It can not be but a dream. Were it not a dream, I would be able to determine my presence within a perceptible, tangible space, demarcated by easily discernible spatial boundaries. I must be dreaming, if not, my being here would register a conspicuous manifestation on the time continuum. It is definitely a dream; it would explain this palpable feeling of powerlessness to verbally define this negation of spatiotemporal dimensions. This paradoxical presence of the signifier deprived of the corresponding signified orchestrates a mind-boggling absence. I am overwhelmed with a sensation, not physical or tactile, an extrasensory perception oozing with an amalgamation of impending doom and pleasurable anticipation. Now it is evolving into a more concrete, somewhat less imperceptible, impression. An aura of familiarity is unquestionably emerging, yet this sense of reassurance is plagued by an imminent materialisation of a long hidden threat. There can be no doubt, it is a dream. It blatantly defies reality, after all. Oh! How alarmingly pitiful I can be! Even in my dream I can not escape the linear, the deterministic way of thinking I have been taught! It is a fallacy. I need alternatives. I wonder. Could reality be a mere deception? Sometimes it is better to be deceived. Could reality be corrupted, concealing other possibilities by rendering them elusive? I don’t like their reality anyway. It destroys my ability to imagine. It circumscribes, baffles and muddles my faculties and the toil of even my hardest efforts is invariably banality. It is frustratingly maddening when imagination can only yield results more real than reality itself. Could there be multiple realities? Perhaps, reality should be reformulated constantly, or is it, already? I wonder. Is this dream my opportunity to transcend reality and let my imagination forge new frontiers emancipated from my conditioned linguistic dexterity? I wonder.
But, wait! It is morphing into a more discernible, more intelligible form. Can it be…? Is it…? Yes. The End of the World is Nigh. The sky at the top, the sea at the bottom, the assemblage of clouds, the sharply contrasting lights and darks are unequivocal evidence. It must be Altdorfer’s painting, yet it is a warped, gnarled representation of the end of the world. Poe’s lurid sea, at the bottom, is irrevocably luring me to where “death has reared himself a throne … amid no earthly moans” to sink in the melancholy, yet hideously familiar serene waters. Wordsworth’s broad sun, at the top, is hedonistically seducing me to “sink down in its tranquility and revel in promises” of a yet untried but unspeakably sensuous consciousness. Now this chromatic aberration is shedding its inanimate hypostasis evolving as it does into an eerie, pulsating microcosm of existence, seducing me into an uncontrollable suction towards the center of a spiral descend to nonexistence, a tumble into a voluptuous nirvana like a moth perpetually lured towards a hedonistic entanglement with oblivion. I remain pendulous, consumed by a compelling feeling to extricate myself from the euphoric awareness of my predefined consciousness. The magnetism is insufferable. I shall now let myself be absorbed into this implosion of indeterminate desires inextricably amalgamated with the dread of an impending foreboding.
Bitter disappointment! Being tantalized to such extreme expectations only to find myself inside my banal bedroom! Mesmeric promises of a sublime, ineffable state of existence obliterated by the stagnant inertia reigning supreme in my bedroom.
“Why, how now, ho? From whence ariseth this?” A cat resting on my wife’s pillow. She is lying with her gracefully moulded body sprawled sensuously, almost provocatively. She is aware of my presence. I can tell by the way she purrs.
“I’m p-paralyzed with happiness.”
The cat speaks! But it’s Daisy’s voice from the Great Gatsby. It sounds exactly as Nick described it in the novel, a “voice that the ear follows up and down, as if each speech is an arrangement of notes that will never be played again”. I can not resist her “singing compulsion promising exciting things hovering in the next hour”. I have always been fascinated with a Daisy and now I can not help yielding to a compelling urge to caress this seductive creature. The intimate tactile affinity arouses a surge of an overwhelmingly sensual pleasure which unconsciously spurs my hand into squeezing the creature’s exquisite neck. Oh! The pain! The claws are excruciatingly piercing my skin, yet the sensation is suffused with pleasure, as if pain and hedonism are inextricably interwoven into a reciprocal duality. The sensation is acquiring a will of its own obsessed with an unquenchable craving for an ever increasing gratification. It feels as though a long forgotten primordial, primitive force has been awakened and, impervious to any feelings of remorse or regression mechanisms, seeks satisfaction in unattainable, insufferable excesses of pleasure. There is no culmination, no climax to this insatiable longing for sensual stimulation. It is beyond my will, beyond my control.
Alas! The cat is no more! “Howl, howl, howl, howl! She’s gone for ever. I know when one is dead and when one lives. She’s dead as earth”.
Who’s there? How now, what art thou?
“I’m your son.” “Behold, I have a weapon.”
Yes, it is my son. But, why is he brandishing that knife?
“It is the cause, it is the cause, my soul. Arise, black vengeance, from the hollow hell.”
No, no! Not my loins! Not by my own son! Oh! The pain!
What a relief! I am peeing! And not a moment too soon! Well, castrated by my own son so as to wake up and pee is too much for even my sick mind. Although I do have to give my bladder some credit for dragging Shakespeare and Freud into its conspiracy. A simple organ taking advantage of my neuropsychotic disorders to achieve its goal is certainly food for thought. It’s a crying shame though. I mean, the whole thing was, after all, a simulation of a promised transcendental breakthrough in reality. It was only a simulation of reality. Or, was it? Am I real now or just a simulated reality of the reflection I see in the bathroom mirror? No, it must have been a dream. Oh, shit! Why can’t I dream of an exotic island full of luscious, consenting young ladies? Why can’t I break the established order in my life and dream Titian’s Venus of Urbino? Yes, I know the answer. Because I would end up as Holofernes being beheaded by Judith in Caravaggio’s tableau. Two visions residing at the opposite ends of the spectrum, but yet, somehow, locked in a nebulous fusion of one into the other. If I can’t have my desires define my own simulated reality in my own dreams, what is there left for me to do? Yes, I know, I know. I shall keep having the same harrowing dream again and again, yet, every time disguised in a different form. It’s pointless. As a very wise man once said, there is nothing to be done. Well, back to bed.
“O spite! O hell! O, how mine eyes do loathe this sight”! The wretched cat lying lifeless on my pillow! And is it my wife I see knelt beside it weeping and mourning its demise?
Alas! “Who can control his fate? ’tis not so now”. No! No! I cannot, I will not be deprived of the ultimate, most primary pleasure.
Ο Γιάννης Τζήμκας γεννήθηκε το 1959 στη Θεσσαλονίκη. Είναι απόφοιτος του Τμήματος Μηχανολόγων Μηχανικών του ΤΕΙ Θεσσαλονίκης, καθώς και του Τμήματος Αγγλικής Γλώσσας & Φιλολογίας του Α.Π.Θ. με μεταπτυχιακές σπουδές στην εκπαίδευση (Οpen University U.K.). Εργάζεται ως καθηγητής Αγγλικής γλώσσας στη Θεσσαλονίκη.
Η Άννα Κουστινούδη γεννήθηκε το 1964 στη Θεσσαλονίκη όπου ζει και εργάζεται ως καθηγήτρια Αγγλικής Γλώσσας στο Διαπολιτισμικό Γυμνάσιο Ευόσμου. Είναι Διδάκτορας Λογοτεχνίας του τμήματος Αγγλικής Α.Π.Θ. στο οποίο έχει διδάξει μαθήματα λογοτεχνίας, και Δεξιοτήτων Έρευνας. Οι δημοσιεύσεις της και τα ερευνητικά της ενδιαφέροντα εστιάζουν στο Βικτωριανό Μυθιστόρημα του 19ου αιώνα και στη θεωρία και κριτική της λογοτεχνίας με έμφαση στην αφηγηματολογία το μεταδομισμό, το φεμινισμό και την ψυχανάλυση. Άρθρα της & βιβλιοκριτικές της έχουν δημοσιευτεί σε Ελληνικά περιοδικά θεωρίας/κριτικής (Γράμμα: Περιοδικό Θεωρίας & Κριτικής Α.Π.Θ), αλλά κυρίως του εξωτερικού (College Literature, Gaskell Journal, Gothic Studies, European English Messenger ) Η μονογραφία της με τίτλο: The Split Subject of Narration in Elizabeth Gaskell’s First-Person Fiction εκδόθηκε το 2011 και κυκλοφορεί από τις εκδόσεις Lexington Books. Διήγημά της με τίτλο «Το Κέικ» πρόκειται να δημοσιευτεί στο Περιοδικό Εντευκτήριο, ενώ έχει συμμετάσχει με μικροδιήγημα της στη Συλλογικό Ψηφιακή έκδοση Tweet Stories, καθώς και στο One: Story με ένα της διήγημα («Διακείμενο Τραύμα»)