In trying to understand the dream-symbols
of another person, we fill in the gaps with our
own interpretation, assuming our perceptions
to be comparable. Visions and ill-dreams are
gap-fillers in themselves. What is a dream, a vision?
A message from God, as the ancient Greeks intended?
A message from the unconscious? An electrical
phenomenon to be decoded by a quantum computer?
Slowly, the pilgrim rose from the bed of wood,
he moved toward the door. From the other side
of the room, through the window overlooking
the swamp, there came a strong flash of light.
The light was blinding, and he felt confused.
Suddenly all the room lit up; a strange whirring
sound began to drone, like a machine had started.
A heavy undecipherable scent came and stayed.
What the shadow on the wall wrote is subject
of much debate in his frayed mind. It so appeared
then to him, that the devil or a spirit took form
on the wall opposite to the window’s shining light.
The shadow was mocking him with an incredible
jig in a frenzy. As he looked on in amazement, he
saw the monster’s face distort in disgust. Then it
turned from running to a comedy of his artistry.
At home in the Castle, the pilgrim was reknowned
for being a failed artist, and his folly had brought
him far abroad in mysterious lands to seek the light.
Now the spirit was mocking his efforts and talents.
It was all so very personal, as if in this cursed
night all the threads in his life had come together
in a knot, and the knot was being unravelled
before his eyes. His painting was exhausting.
And the shadow on the wall was proving to
him the utter meaninglessness of his efforts,
and the purple light in the middle of the room
was shining all the brighter, and the sound
of mechanical humming was drilling in his ears,
and the scent of spice and moist dread was
filling his senses to the brim. Somewhere outside,
the damp skies hidden from view saw a lightning.
Then a thunder broke the silence, a hard bell toll.
It was a wake-up call for the little foolish pilgrim
looking at the shadows in his monastery cell.
He believed he was being summoned by God.
He was being tested, or so he thought. All of his
life streamed in front of him, and he followed
the mocking dance of the black shadow on the
stained wall until a sharp rain burst his bubble.