Carnival Cosmology by Gary Warne

January 3, 2012 | By

– Gary Warne

The world is a midway; cities are its sideshows.
The only difference between children and adults is
that there is no one to take care of us. When we
left home it meant we were lost on the midway
and, unlike God, the carny boss will only let us ride
as long as we pay.

No one will come to find us. Some children will hurt
us, others will stop to play…some are still deciding.
But you can sneak in too.

I have been exploring a world of adventures, exotic
locales, mystic essences, confronting my fears was
the immediate goal, the predominant focus of the
explorations and challenges. Now, nine months
later, my fears have become wafer like and
crumbling, shadows of their former selves. Now I
find fear only a final, non-evolving image that stills
other possibilities, the creation of more intoxicating
future images, that prevents me from entering into
a visionary dialogue with whom I could become.

Recently I have walked past the place where my
fear images blotted out what would have come
next if I had not been afraid. I climbed the Golden
Gate bridge three weeks ago immersed in images of
falling thru space into the ocean. There was
nothing to fantasize beyond this one, final, deadly
image. Fantasies of my friend’s deaths were
perhaps even more vivid and recurring. People who
didn’t go asked their companions to call them when
they returned, no matter what the hour. Those
unable to express their love in this way simply
asked for the rent before their roommates left for
the climb. The image of death, for many THE
culminating fear image, blots out all other

The subject of fear has fascinated me for many
years. That night I felt I understood it much better.
Fear is a freeze on the future, the filter or floodgate
that stops our imaginings; something within us that
stops us from becoming more powerful and loving,
rather than fearing those things that are more vivid
than our fantasies, more powerful than our magic, more
mysterious than our own mysteries.

I buried the predominance of fear in my own
cosmology that night. After many months of
incredible experience and a rich new flood of images
and emotions I began to see the colours and text-
ures beyond the death images, beyond the
fantasies of authority and arrest, beyond inner
visions of my own failure of stamina or confidence.
And something more began to emerge.

I am not speaking at all metaphorically when I say
that it was the bright lights and moving colours of
the bigtop, carnival, amusement park-midway.
Once I was on the bridge I was greeted instead by
moonlight on still waters and the skyline of the city
diminutively reduced to scale on a plywood board,
ready for display. The outline of the city floated
across in, all of shades, autumnal colours of yellow
and orange. Our height did not make them that
way; it allowed me to see them that way as the
houses, ships and lights below took on a bathtub,
toy like countenance. The height silhouetted by
sky and underscored by the sea allowed me to
place it within a gigantic midway, rather than
myself as a stick figure man within the reality of
the cities overwhelming back buildings.

Two months before I had climbed the Oakland Bay
Bridge and for the first time the metaphor had
become real. The bridge was obviously a jungle gym
made to climb rather than drive over: the cars just
using it for the in between times. The girders were
so huge that you could climb inside them like chimps,
risking nothing but a strained heart from the
excitement. It was then that I was first struck with
the feeling that we were here to play, if nothing else,
here to play with the world and other people.

Before that I visited a ghost town in central
California and it became the spook house of a long
bankrupt carnival, disappearing into a marshy bog
at the same pace it was swallowed up by the past.
As I walked along the tracks at night that led to
the town, unsure if I was going the right way, a
bouncing yellow light appeared behind and we
waited for the predictable “hey you kids, get out
of here!” only to have it explode instead in to a
supernaturally silent coal black train screaming
into the night ahead, shaking the ground in great
heaps and gulps of air as it roared past.

My mind elongated with it, as it did as a small child
in front of the tv, when Daffy Duck sold Elmer Fudd
a new house and then turning to leave, opened the
front door and let a train rush straight at the
camera, straight at Elmer, straight at me, right
through his living room and mine, my child’s mind
simply gasping at the possibilities.

Other possibilities are becoming much more apparent.
The world is becoming a total play environment and
I am becoming something else entirely. The future
is no longer on a circuit like the news, entertainment
something an entrepreneur plans as I expectantly
read the notices in the bleached parchments on the
corner stands. It is an imagination away.

Category: Essays

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