ENOCH by G. David Schwartz
The one to which I refer was a ponderously deep mirror. The mirror reflected monkeys and butterflies, ermine, raccoon and any other animal which passed by and glanced into its depths. Most of the time, I could not see my own reflection therein. I did, however, see the traces and fumes of the other existents. Once I saw the famed and deterring panther. I was struck by the profundity of her beauty. Another time I saw a weasel. I was struck at its immature behavior.
One day I looked laboriously deep and saw myself. I had grown accustomed to not knowing what I looked like, having peered into too many mirrors across the years. Each time I noted these reflections, and traced them back to their essential structures. These structures were defined genetically (as a gift to me from all of history) as well as environmentally. I was content to be a series of distractions. Those more scientifically minded than I called this "refraction." But
a banana by any other name....
On the particular day about which I am speaking, I allowed my gaze to penetrate deep within the light waves and particle components of the silken surface, which reflected generations of light and dark. I saw, as a famous colloquialism expresses it, my reflection.
I was like the eyes of hell upon me. My visage was terrible, and terribly germane to the witness of weeks, which fell behind me (as well as those which stood prideful before me). I was all that was in the mirror. Even the background, which was generally so much noise, was an extension of myself. The door which was behind me, the door into the room in which I stood, was the narrow port hole into my soul. Therefore, the door was as much a part of me as the ceiling which was the top of my cranium, or the walls which were my heart. The door was also one, which led away from the notoriously small room and, therefore, out of my soul. In a momentary lapse of humanity, I wondered if there was indeed anything which was not me.
I felt the full weight of the burden which was me, which was, therefore, the mirror and, therefore, everything which had ever been reflected in their particular mirror: anything which walked in the sand or drank from the sea out of which this particular mirror was eventually composed. A bitter silence beckoned me to look deeper into the glass. Volcanic illusions crisply told me their secret, sacred, encoded name. I watched, awe-struck, as my hair peeled away in wave after wave of worn images. My cheeks, generally so ruddy and redundant, melted into the nectar of stoneware madness. My teeth fell from, or shot up out of, the black hole, which was my mouth. I was the stunned inventor of a new genre: lyrical pus. I dialed the telephone to find help. I should learn to ask who I am talking with on the other end. Every human being is heard in every circumstance, and only the dizzy believe this is not the case. I was ablaze with the wild wisdom of decades within decades of wonderment. This undoubtedly explained why I spoke like a blithering idiot. I stammered and baffled even myself.
The most momentous need of my life loomed in the image of my own voice, which was a replica of my ear, which itself was a perfect facsimile of my face, and head, and hands, and, in short, the long mirror in the narrow room. I was, I discovered with gloomy amazement, the infamous and anonymous everyman. Therefore, I was no single man. I was the mathematical propagation of lineage and ligament. I was the adept intellectual in the adopted mouth of the mute. But I repeat myself! Indeed! On and on, one and one, ear and eon of that which composed and sung and buried me duplicated in the riotous calm of my agonizing revelation. My fist balled into itself as the thought ballooned in my head (which was also your head): Break the damn mirror. Break the damn mirror and be free. Blood and glass intermingled like two lovers who had spoken their vows over the drink of iron ingots. Behind the mirror was cardboard, an unnerving, placid, early surfaceless quantity of senselessness. Behind that, I surmised, was the maple of the back of the mirror. Behind that was undoubtedly the plaster of the very house, which covered the insulation, which pressed against the brick and touched the very air we breathe.
I talk about air, but have taken to referring to myself as earth. The earth itself touches heaven, which touches God who, because of our limited notion of infinity, touches everything that ever did or ever could exist. It fatigues me to think that this all might be otherwise.
The mirror was broken. But the concept of the mirror goes on forever. I have no control over that datum. I thought of Kant's overly brilliant distinction between a hundred real thalars and a hundred illusory thalers. He claimed, if I remember correctly, that one might purchase furniture, food, diamonds, books, political office, or many other sundry items with a hundred real thalers. One might purchase nothing with a hundred illusory thalers. I remember how impressed I became when I first read his argument. Could anything have been more true, I remember thinking at the time.
Now the mirror is broken. False thalers and fake thalers came pouring out of the wall, which hid the room from sight. It was quite by accident, or some would say enchantment, that I discovered the logical refutation of Kant's argument. Scientists would applaud my refutation. It was succinct. It was neat. It was judgmental, explanatory, predictive, combative, anti-ambivalent, and beautiful. I simply said, "Pooof!" Kant and his a priori and a posteriori and red herring disappeared in a neutron flash of insight.
I thought, how compelling this argument would be if applied to my present predicament. I looked into several shards of broken glass laying on the notoriously small floor, each reflecting overlapping patches of my now overbearing, over large face, and said, "Pooof!" None of them disappeared. The mole under my left eye still appeared in seven of the fragments on the floor. My tears of momentary triumphant confusion still spilled into at least six of the glittering pieces of glass, splattering in private pools on the tile. I opened my mouth to scream, saw my tongue reflected in multiple variations, and quickly closed my mouth. The lips went on repeatedly, agonizing over several endeavors at once. I was simply unfeasible. I jaggedly went on and on and one until absolutely sickened by the monotony of it all.
Finally, I heard a gentle throbbing. I thought it was my heart throwing off the last marble-nosed attire of this filament body. At last! I was filled with glee, which only confirmed the failure of my supposition. Happiness is obviously something, which cannot be repeated in these increasingly numerous mirrors. But the pulse was not from my heart. The noise belonged to the knuckles of another on the door behind me. Someone was knocking on the door, which lay infinitely behind me.
"What is it?" I shouted instinctively.
"I asked if you were done in there yet?" This was the voice of someone who wanted in, into the mirror.
"Yes," I said. Yes, step in. I will gladly trade places with you. Yes; enter. Please do. I will be pound to sand, redundantly, perhaps, outside. Certainly, I muttered more to myself than the person pounding for admission, you shall be welcomed in the jaws of the mirror. Yes. Enter. But watch your step. Be careful. The vague sights, made even more enigmatic by my careless handling of the mirror, will ensnare your eyes. And your feet--those natural items with a clear front and back, a clear left and right, a poignant coming and going, to and fro--your feet, I say, will be severed in a monstrous metaphysical manner.
At first, all that will replace them will be images of lobsters, gerbils, robins, polar bears, the sleep-lidded eyes of the dangerous panther. Yet you may be the one called upon to peer more deeply than I have been allowed. The room is too small for me to have done otherwise.
Suddenly, there will loom before your eyes the great weaving which was you. Suddenly you will note you are legless, possibly armless, certainly formless. You, too, shall be abandoned to your own thoughts until the marvelous salvific knock of one outside, one who wants to enter, one who wants to draw you into.... Who?
With these thoughts in mind, I had to exit. I crawled to my desk and began plotting a novel which began with the words, "There was once a wise man, a great artificer for whom the Lord conceived love, and received him so that he should behold the uppermost dwellings and be an eye witness of the great, inconceivable realm of the almighty, the very wonderful, the most glorious, bright and many-eyed stations of the servants of the inaccessible throne. The wise man shall speak of the multitude of elements and various apparitions and impossible singing of the host of cherubim, of boundless light, and sparkling shade...." It would have made a great novel, too; full of mystery and delicate notions swirling into phantom effusions. I could have made the characters seem real, thriving, and vibrant being that had jobs as well as tasks. Alas, I looked out the window upon the echoes within the hushed pines,which slept among a mile of needles, and structure and function evaporated.
Like a love lost to even memory, I fell into the jagged bark of a dogā a haughtiness where I became bleary even to myself.
© G. David Schwartz
Bio: G. David Schawrtz is the former president of Seedhouse, the online interfaith committee. Schwartz is the author of A Jewish Appraisal of Dialogue and Midrash and Working Out Of The Book. Currently a volunteer at the Cincinnati J Meals on Wheels, Schwartz continues to write. His latest book is Shards and Verse (2011, Publish America).