Matters Surrounding the Late Mr. Woodward By JC Collins
April 29, 2014 Woodward By JC Collins
Hellfire engulfed the sky and on the heels of the screams the rains came. Black smoke rolled without effort across the ground. As my hands sunk into the grey ashen mud, I lifted my face and sucked in the foul air and looked around at the horror which had come from above.
Figures with no skin danced in the shallow darkness of war. There was whimpering all around me. Where thick jungle once stood now there was nothing but a world of fire and burnt matchsticks. All the vegetation was gone, the green lushness replaced by stark madness.
If my heart was beating I could not tell. A pale silence descended upon us as the screams faded away into the moans of despair. In seconds the napalm had ripped the humanity from our lives. What cost the selfishness of human want? What pain wrought from the numbed mind of man? How can my life move on from this destruction?
My children were just here. My love is gone. I’m coming.
From the horror emerged a large buck. It was beautiful in contrast to the hell around us. It stood silent between two naked trees. Our eyes met and I feel into its vastness.
Floating within an endless whiteness I could see my body for the first time. The burnt flesh and exposed soul pulsated like the heartbeat of a newborn star.
“We are the dream of all those who came before us.” It was a whisper.
There was a flash and I was sucked inward.
Crying. There was crying. Someone was yelling. Someone was screaming. Familiarity of experience washed over me. I was born again.
As a child I ran and frolicked through the days. Somewhere around the age of six I saw a large buck in a field. It stared at me with wide black eyes. Blinking the sun away I refocused and it was gone.
The world played out in front of me on the television. It was the humdrum boredom of inexplicable storylines. There seemed to be no relation or interconnectedness to the events. One fragment followed another fragment and all was disorderly.
School wasn’t much better as I mentally crawled from class to class and subject to subject. None of it made anything less confusing.
As I grew patterns began to emerge from the swirling mockery. A hint of interconnectedness traveled upon the slight breeze of summertime subtleties.
In and around the age of fourteen I saw the large buck again. It was early evening in autumn. The October air was cool. There was a short trail that cut through the middle of the thick wood. The path was well worn.
On the slope just ahead of me he stepped out. The width of his antlers brushed against the dry branches on either side. The black eyes drew me in and a paralysis overcame me.
“Who are you,” I asked?
“The Warden of the Wood.” The voice came from everywhere.
“These woods are not large enough for a warden,” I proclaimed in youthful ignorance.
“These woods are all things and all things come from the woods,” said the Warden.
The wind hammered the trees blowing the remaining leaves off onto the ground around me. And just like that the buck was gone. The strangeness of the experience left a pointed mark upon the core of my mind.
And I grew.
Innocent frolicking turned into desperate and foolish escape. Taking to drink I lavished in the entertainment available to a youthful man.
All the while the woods crept closer.
The winter of my 25th year was cold, not shivering cold, but the kind of cold that freezes the moisture in your nose and eye sockets. Staying outside for more than a few minutes would lead to sever frost bite and possible amputation of extremities, such as toes and fingers.
The threat of dead tissue aside, when I saw the buck emerge from the thick ice fog that January morning, I could do nothing but stop in my tracks. The world appeared inverted in frozen forgetfulness. The pine and birch trees hung like meat in a freezer and the snow was pulled upward into the sky.
It reminded me of a poem I once heard,
A wintery night so wide and white,
Frozen in the moments of forgotten light.
A heart is ignorance lost in bliss,
A brain so formed from the formless mist.
Or something along those lines. It’s lost to me now as I stand on this narrow stretch of abandon.
“Are the woods the world of matter,” I asked the Warden?
Breath escaped its nostrils. “The world of matter comes from the woods.”
There was space between us but yet there wasn’t. It was as if size and distance no longer were anchored to the senses. We both fell into each other and grew anew from within one another.
“What are you,” I asked?
“The pattern from which you emerged,” said the Warden.
And then it came to me. It was clear. All things emerge from the things which they were and have yet to be. Flashes of life flicked threw my mind like the moving picture shows of the 30′s. The war of the 40′s came to the surface and I saw the wealth of humanity encapsulated within the structure of wanton madness.
The madness manufactured a new suit and re-entered the world. From its vastness came the social engineering which would define the existence of billions. Time was segmented into controllable and corruptible partitions which had themes applied.
The 1950′s were a period of innocence and the beginnings of parental rebellion. The malt stops and rock ‘n’ roll entered the collective consciousness.
The 1960′s saw the first signs of the controlled counterculture with the introduction of free sex and drug propagation. The madness infected things outside of itself.
The hippy daze gave way to the disco craze man, and things went from groovy to slick. Roller skates and porn crashed into the 1970′s like a meteorite.
With the engineering of the 1980′s we saw the synthesizing of music. Hey dude, it was kind of cool with songs like Take On Me and Major Tom. The manufactured morality of the western world was blatantly promoted through feed the world concerts and U2 demanding the end of apartheid in South Africa.
By the time the 1990′s unfolded from the padded rooms of what use to be the Tavistock Institute, the young populations were starving for Nirvana and their remake of the 1972 David Bowie song The Man Who Sold the World.
Grunge and Techno aside, culture moved forward into the 21st Century with a further consolidation of methodology and intention. What was once visible is now virtually invisible. Extrapolating the pattern of cultural engineering is not for the faint of heart.
Hearts are cold and selfish.
The madness of the cold.
The snow swirled up into a blizzard of the bizarre. The outline of the buck shimmered in the whiteness. Time began to consolidate once more.
It then began to dawn on me that if I was the pattern which emerged from the Warden of the Wood, and the world of matter also came from the woods, am I also the woods.