The title of this play is taken from a quote from the preface to Modern Mythology by Louis Aragon: "O reason, reason, abstract phantom of the waking state, I had already expelled you from my dreams, now I have reached a point where those dreams are about to become fused with apparent realities: now there is only room here for myself."
As you might have noticed with the other plays, I tend not to be a very poetic writer. I like to think of my "style" as the lovechild between Strindberg and Noel Coward. I love to write riling melodramatic scripts with people being emotionally savage to each other, but I also like to have them talk in pithy clever quips that's never quite appropriate for the situation. We all have crosses.
This script was a deliberate attempt to try to get out of my comfort zone. It is also in the form of a long monologue. You might ask, what's the difference between this and writing a first person short story? And to that I'd say first and foremost: Shut up you smart aleck stinky head. And then I'd also add, that I think when it comes to work like these, the main difference is intention. This is a script that is meant to be performed. I keep it vague as it how it should be performed because I think that should be determined by the actor and director. But I definitely think of this as a performance piece. Hope you enjoy.
O Reason, Reason
(A man on a stage.)
I live for dreams.
In them, I am anything, everything. I run through the bright summer grass, feel the warm sun on my toes, the wet grass under the bare soles of my feet, feel my chest rise and fall with my foot steps, leaping and bounding higher and higher, superman leaps. Up. Up. And away. I soar in the clouds, mist sprays in my face. I am man. I am free. I am ascendant.
And then I wake. Always. The mist parts and I come to earth, to my bed, to the numbness, the overarching nothingness: a space where I know my body lies like I know that two plus three equals five. A fact, not a sensation. Not a connection. My body is a truth, immutable, immovable. You cannot move a truth. You can rearrange the numbers, shift them from one side to the other, but the equal sign has to add up. You can’t change that. There are some things we have no control over.
I live for dreams.
I once told my mom that. She started crying. She cries a lot. It’s been three years. You’d think she’d get used to it by now. I know what it’s like. My dreams, the dreams I live for, live in, they are not supposition. I know what it’s like to be weightless, to feel the force of pressure, weight, momentum act and react to the tension of my muscles. Push against the span of my hand and fly. My mom used to call me a seal. I could live in the water. I would swim so long my hair would be a permanent mat of tangles, my fingers a perpetual serving of prunes. Up and down, the breast stroke, leaping up and out of the water as a breaching whale. I have dreams like that too, gliding with a pod of dolphins. I miss the water. I miss it more than anything else.
I can move. I control my wheelchair with a straw I hold in my mouth. It is ridiculous. I am ridiculous. People stare or, even worse, try not to, as soon as I enter a room. I don’t go out any more. I stay, up here, in my room. And I watch TV or I read or I do my calculus homework, but mostly I try to sleep.
I have sex dreams. Those are nice. I have family dreams. Dead dog dreams. I once dreamt I saw the face of my father, a man I have never known, but his head was eclipsed by the sun. And on occasion I dream about that night. About having one too many, about trying to impress friends and girls with whom I have long lost contact with an insipid and impossible dive. The slick feeling of the plastic deck chair, two stacked on top of each other. There was a reason the pool didn’t have a diving board. Of having the unwarranted bravado and confidence found at the end of every bottle of Tequila. Of preparing, of not being completely with. it.
At the time, the act happened in a flash. But in my dreams, I relive it, moment by moment. The fall, hands outstretched, face red and puffy with blood and gravity, body moving as through thick mucous. And then. Splash. And then the concrete floor rushing up like some terrible wall and I wake much as I woke later that night. Alone and numb and broken.
There are truths you can’t alter. Facts we cannot change. I sometimes wonder if I keep reliving that night in the hopes that maybe I can change things, that maybe I can go back and do things differently. My mom says regret is the most useless emotion in the world. But what else are the useless amongst us supposed to feel?
I still go to school. Online. I’m getting a masters in applied mathematics. It feels appropriate. Solid. Understandable. It is one of the few things I can still do. And I have friends. I have a blog. And I am in many many ways a very lucky man.
But in all, I can’t help but feel like there’s been a mistake, an error in the calculation. The equal signs don’t add up. This world is cloaked in a haze of unreality. How can anything seem real when the world has lost its feeling? My long flights in the clouds, my epic swims in the golden sea. This is me. This is my life. I make no excuses.
I live for dreams.