The Dark Tower escapade continues for the Sixth Week on Monday, April 29th.
Last week I told you that Olde Stephen and I, armed only with a slug-horn, found ourselves lost on the edge of a darkling plain, in this instance a fog-enshrouded one, facing three paths, provisionally labelled the Left, the Right, and the Centre, forbidden to choose one but rather enjoined to walk them all at the same time, at the end of which we believed stood, or perhaps floated uncertainly, a Dark Tower which either was, or contained, the Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice. We were, therefore, in what may be justly described as a quandary, that is, according to my dictionary, a “state of perplexity concerning what to do”. If we wished to keep our feet on the ground we were limited by the relative flatness of it, its inherent two-dimensionality. If we tried to fly, seeking a third dimension above, we would lose touch with the ground and likely be blown off course. If we made like moles and dug we may discover a route among the roots, but were likely to lose our sense of direction amidst their many distractions. We may envy the star-nosed mole, able to sense and feel its way through the dirt with the same facility as we above it use our eyes, a faculty alas more effective for finding worms than Dark Towers. We idly speculated on the possibility of a third dimension that is neither above nor below, but had as yet not discovered where it may be, or how to travel in it.
We were about to break out in a lamentable cry saying, “What shall we do?” when we noticed a new growth had suddenly popped up before us, waving at us seductively with diaphanous fronds that were matrices of miraculous complexity. “What have we here?” I exclaimed interrogatively to my companion. “Can it be a, or even the, Global Membrane?”
I would like to describe it for you, but words fail me. Fortunately, Professor-Poet B.W. Powe of York University has already done the job. In fact, he has written a book about it, called The Charge in the Global Membrane, very recently published by NeoPoiesis Press with street art photos by Marshall Soules. His description is definitive.
The global membrane is an evolutionary jump from the global village and global theatre into sensory, psychic alteration in which communications bring us at once closer and into sharp, painful divisions. A time of openings—expressions of humane empathy: a time of terrified, terrorizing closings—reactions against uprooting of what we know. Ecology, the afflictions of the Trump phenomenon, the quick-time evolutions of the internet, the rush of data influx, the upsurges in Nationalism, Trolls and Hackers, spiritual distress, crises of identity and A-literacy, #MeToo, the Netgens, the search for silence and rest, the intimations of a worldwide linked consciousness, the transfiguration of digital experience into cellular intimacies and addictions, the crying out of souls longing to grasp and express this dislocating jump-drive and its illuminating hopes, the shape-shifting artistic expressions of the current: all are elements of what we experience.
“Can it be,” I cried to my ectoplasmic companion, “that this plant is the new dimension we seek? Can it be that this plant, by gathering all trails into the miraculous organic matrices it displays to the world, in its essence both both rooted and mobile, will guide us to the Dark Tower of the Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice, through all the ambient fog, cacophony, and uncertainty as to its precise nature and location?”
“I have no idea,” said Stephen Leacock’s ghost. “Such creatures did not exist in my day.”
“Then what is your relationship to it?” I asked, sensing (after the fashion of a star-nosed mole) that there must be one.
“I have no idea about that either,” said the ghost.
“Can it be that you are one of its roots?” I ventured.
“I have no idea about that either, or perhaps at best a very tentative one. I might have been one of its roots, if anyone read my books in the proper way and paid any attention to what they said. Quite frankly, I don’t think they did.”
“Well, we’ll have to do something about that!” I thundered.
“Be careful,” advised my companion, “that would mean you would have to read Powe’s book. Maybe mine again too.”
I was ready to do that, but having come this far I wasn’t ready to give up on the Dark Tower. “Plant,” I demanded, “can you help? Can you guide us where we want to go, and give this ghost his due?”
The plant, after the manner of its kind, said nothing, but suddenly I spotted on it a little twig, which certainly was not there before, and round the twig was a label with the words ‘CHARGE ME’ beautifully printed on it in large letters.
Fearing the invitation might be ephemeral, like so much these days, I beckoned quickly to Olde Stephen and together we charged, right into the middle of the Global Membrane. Or should that be spelled ‘mem-brain’?
Either way, did we thus make any impression on it? Not yet, perhaps, but the Leacock Anniversaries have many weeks to run.