Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Chaining the Beast in the Basement of the Muse

Some may call me cynical. But I know things; things they don’t.

Appearances are deceiving. The eye is unreliable, of both the viewer and the viewed. A long ago generation believed The Shadow to be the only one who knew what evil existed in the hearts of men.

But there is no Shadow, only you and me, babe. Just you…and me. And what do we see when we look? Hell, we see what we’re supposed to see…or maybe what we want to see. Take Frank Lucas, one of the most dangerous and profitable drug traffickers of this century. An upstanding citizen; a good son who took Mama to church on Sundays; a good friend of the community who handed out food to the hungry. And, of course, a fiend who made his millions off the weakness and need of others. And the scariest part of all? He was all those things—didn’t appear to be one more than another, but actually was the doting son, the respected philanthropist. And the drug lord.

So the question remains: Who lives behind the eyes we see, and what do we do about him?

Those eyes staring at me, wide-eyed and unflinching, seem innocent. But as I said, I know things. Back behind the hazel stare—ducking and hunching—is the real man, the one who wants to be forgotten, if not forgiven. That man is a liar, an adulterer. That man cheated, perfected the lie, and then had the gall to weep in the face of his accusers when his integrity was challenged. This same man, when the weight of his sin became too much to hide, told his childhood bride of fifteen years the biggest and most heinous lie of all—that he never really loved her and had to leave her because he just couldn’t (are you a fan of irony?) live a lie anymore. This he did the day after Christmas. And here that man stares from behind eyes that now belong to a man whose conscience will not allow him to watch a bootlegged DVD.

No matter how probing my gaze I cannot see that other, more sinister man, but I know he is in there, muttering and cursing himself, picking at his sores back in some dank and fetid corner where only the rats play.

I get as close to the mirror as I can…but only sane eyes stare back. So what do I do with the man cowering in there? That man who did all that I know he did? How do I deal with the knowledge of that Other?

I lock him in. Not away, but In. I strap him to a rough cane chair in the basement of my mind and demand that he tell what he knows of deceit. He has stories to tell, this man, and much to teach me; much to reveal about the dealings of liars and cheats. He is me and I am him and his sentence is to remain so much with me that he can never go undetected again...and to be slave to my dark-eyed, raven-haired little bitch of a Muse, whipped into action when dark thoughts are called for in an invented character. My Muse and I will bleed him dry, burn the husk and scatter the ashes.

Some call me cynical. But I know things.


  1. Honest!! Bravo. This person of whom you speak lives in each and everyone of us in different and various degrees. It is up to each of us to either tame, learn from or feed the beast within.

  2. Spot on. And the worst possible thing we can do (in an effort to make ourselves feel better) is try to convince ourselves that person does not--and never did--exist. Then the value of the lesson is lost. Thanks for checking in!

  3. All I can say is "wow!".

    I can appreciate that bound and tamed man in the basement, because without him you would not be who you are today. And I LOVE who you are today.

  4. Jung would have called this nasty little beast the "shadow" side of the personality. It is said to be made up of all the reprehensible characteristics that each of us wish to deny and the more we try to suppress it or disassociate it from our conscious self, the more it will rear its ugly little head. So maybe letting the little bugger out to play once in a while isn't a bad thing as long as you have a sturdy leash!

  5. A sturdy leash...and a barbed choke chain!