Sunday, August 06, 2006

Double strength/New and improved/Bonus features

After a terribly long hiatus, Ramble in the Jungle returns with a few new entries. One of these - Flight - is actually new, while the other entries in the Poetry and Short story sections are just old compositions that I dug up. My personal favourites among the new poetry & fiction entries are Maelstrom and Teleology Take 2. Anyhow, just below this you can find Flight, and below that you'll find the The Overhang, which is a sort of Contents page for this whole blog. Hopefully you'll find something you like - to get a flavour of my preferences, check out the stars beside each title.

And now, as, the MTV voice says, "Enjoy..."


Just at the start of your flight, the small propeller airplane does a little bob, and you get that stomach turning feeling one gets when an elevator drops too quickly, or a roller coaster goes over a hump. It will take about twenty minutes to reach the top, and if it's to be that bumpy all the way it's going to be mighty unpleasant. But amazingly, after that initial hiccup the ride is incredibly smooth, leaving you with one thing less to think about instead of the approaching experience.

The angle of ascent is steady, and with your legs stretched out in front of you, and nothing in easy grasping distance, it's hard to hold your position. So you take the instructor's advice and lean back on to him, occasionally glancing at the plastic yellow ducky in front of you, watching it tilt as the plane banks. The ground below is receding, taking on the appearance of a map, with the neighbouring town laid out in neat squares.

"How high do we go?" you ask over the steady drone of the engine. "10,000 feet."
You nod and lapse into silence again. You're trying to find the altimeter on the dashboard. "At what height does the parachute open?" He has an altimeter on the back of his hand. "About 5000 feet: that's about this height." You glance out the window again, and ask whether it's time to put the goggles on, but he advises you against it - they'd only fog up. You finally spot the altimeter - it's on the far left, with the appearance of a clock face, right down to the two hands turning in steady circles as you climb higher.

Somewhere above 9000 feet, he tells you to start getting ready. You get on your knees, next to the door on your right and just behind the white knee line on the floor. Passing the straps backward, you can hear and feel him fastening and tightening them. Four points of attachment - two on the shoulders, two on the hips, and any one of them strong enough to hold you, they'd said. He's just behind you, and your feet are feeling squashed. "Ow," you say, but he either doesn't hear you or realizes that there's little point to making any adjustments - this won't last long. He tells you it's time for the goggles, and sometime around then the plane levels off, above 10,000 feet.

It's time. You feel amazingly calm, and wonder at that, but shy away from introspection; you can feel a frisson of fear lying beneath that calm, ready to surface and engulf you if you only consider the situation, that you are about to fall out of a perfectly functional airplane for no other reason than you want to see what it feels like.

The door slides open, upward and above. You note the wheel strut - you had thought that it would fold away under the plane after take off, but it's still there. As you wait for the man behind you to put his foot outside, you idly wonder how you are supposed to avoid hitting the wheel, and what would happen if you got entangled in it. You tuck your thumbs under the harness straps and grab the straps firmly, arms tight to your sides. "Knees out," he calls, and you swing - first the right, then the left - until your folded legs are partly out the door, the knees pointing almost perpendicular to the sill. "Head up," he says, and at the same time he's pushing upward and outward - are you going to hit your head on the wing? - and then you're out.

A tumble, and for a moment you are on your back, watching the plane recede and the blue sky fall about you - and then he rolls, and you remember where you are falling to.

He tugs at your arms - belatedly you recall that it's okay to let go of the harness now, and you spread your arms. Fall belly first they had said on the ground - bend your knees and trail your arms and legs, it gives stability. You arch into position. You cast a look above your glasses and see an infinity of blue and white - but then your eyes return to the ground. But the ground is merely a distant concern - the wind embraces you at a hundred and twenty miles per hour. The view from that height is incredible, but you almost close your eyes. You are falling down - you are going nowhere. You are moving fast - you are absolutely still. In the wind's rough embrace, you surrender yourself.

There is a tap on your shoulder and he's moving your arms - a sudden jerk and you move from the horizontal to the vertical; you're suddenly moving upward. All too soon the parachute has opened. The rush of the wind has been replaced by a low steady flutter - you are still descending, but the pace is more sedate. Your arm hurts a little from the suddenness, and you feel queasy - for the next few minutes you will regret this jump, and have no desire to come back. Should you tell him that you feel - no, keep calm, deep breaths, deep breaths. And it quietens.

It is surprisingly quiet. "How was it?" he asks. You can sense that he wants an ecstatic "Oh-My-God" response, or a "Woo-hoo!" or a cheer. But you're still recovering from that feeling in your stomach, and besides, you are not much given to wordy expressions of excitement. "Wow," you say, because you know he'd be disappointed otherwise, "Wow. That was incredible." And then, "I'm basically speechless. Wow," hoping that that will explain your silence and satisfy him. How do you explain that it was a moment of calm, almost holy, of nothingness, of silent exhilaration? That to try to describe it, to quantify it with merely an exclamation fails so miserably; is demeaning to it?

He's handed you the controls to the chute now, and is showing you how to steer, and explaining the landing procedure - "Legs up, and ... flare." And on 'flare' you pull down on both the straps and the descent slows even further, the silence magnifying into another ocean of quiet. You practise a few more times. Your stomach has settled, and you suddenly realize that the ground is closer, too close - your previous regrets have all vanished, and now you merely wish to prolong your flight, to wish the ground away. You drift downward, the landscape a pretty postcard beneath you, but the world and all its reality is drawing closer, all too soon. You're holding the straps but he's the one doing all the real steering - a few turns and you're heading to the airfield. He points out your fellow jumper - despite jumping after you, she's going to touch ground first. A tight curve; the ground comes closer; it's almost over - "Legs up, and.... flare," - you hit the ground, your heels dragging a little infront of you. Not a textbook landing, but sufficient. As he unstraps himself, you tell him about your earlier queasiness. It's not something you're proud of, and you wish it hadn't happened, but the whole experience was so... pure, that you feel compelled to confess that one failing of yours. It demands your honesty. But you thank him, repeatedly, trying in those few words to convey how grateful you are for those few moments in the sky, that utter calm.

Helene is on the ground - you walk over. She was a little hyper on the drive over - and now that the deed is done, she is again. She is the kind of person who cheers and 'woohoo's - the jumpy cheery kind. "How was it?" she asks and you tell her it was great. And it was. "Woohoo! I want to do it again! I want to go skydiving again!" You smile at her. You are not a jumpy kind of person.

Slowly you make your way back to the building and the others waiting. There is a smile fixed on your face, but inside, behind the facade, you are desperately scrambling. What were you doing? Were you sleeping up there? Were your eyes closed? What were you feeling? For the moment is receding, the memory fading - you can remember in an abstract way how incredible it felt, but it was like nothing on this earth; and now, in the stranglehold of the reality around you, you cannot tell even yourself how it felt - only abstractions and trite cliches remain. Like a black hole, that moment in space and time has enclosed itself into nonexistence - it lived only in the experience, and left nothing of itself to remembrance. You will never recall it; it will never leave you.

You were not falling.

The Overhang

I've reorganised the pseudoblog so that you, Dear Reader, can find things more easily. I've started States of Mind, which should hopefully contain semiregular entries about my life in the US of A. I've also introduced ELITIST(OR), having been partially inspired by R&R (see link on the side) who used his blog as a kinda bookmark page.

Feel free to ramble.

States of Mind

  • Learning to Walk (Log 1)

  • To Belong (Log 2)

  • *
  • Flight (Log 3)

  • E.L.I.T.I.S.T. (O.R.)

    E-List of Interesting Things I Saw Today (Or Recently)

  • Vol. 1

  • Posts and Rants

  • The Post

  • The speech of dusty pages

  • Stories

  • Teleology Take 1

  • **
  • Teleology Take 2

  • Fate will not be cheated...

  • Creative Pieces and explications

  • The Wisdom of Solomon

  • ***
  • Second Coming

  • Ice candyman: creative rewrite

  • Poems

    Updated 06 August 2006

  • Maelstrom

  • Unnamed Composition 1

  • Touch

  • ***
  • Poetry

  • **
  • The Traveller's Song

  • The Atheist's Prayer

  • ***
  • With Apologies to WS

  • Quickie

  • Tiger Trilogy Part 1: A Flame in the forest

  • Tiger Trilogy Part 2: A shadow in the forest

  • Tiger Trilogy Part 3: Who made you Tiger?

  • Poem/Anti-poem Part 1

  • Independence

  • Random stuff

  • Quotable Quotes
  • Maelstrom

    The stillness of the room*
    Is like an empty womb*
    Waiting for me to vomit into it*
    The monotone of the fan*
    Stirring in a cup of air*
    Perhaps pure silence would be more poetic*
    But away the crickets chirp*
    If I were by the lake tonight*
    The frogs would sing summer carols*
    Of godlike storks that left*
    Vees and other letters trailing*
    Wakes; the vortices spin noiseless.****

    Unnamed Composition 1

    I can sense myself dying*
    Each day I live passes into a past I cannot return to*
    Nor should I - I desire only its flavour*
    Each hour turned to sand *
    Falls in piles that collapse under themselves*
    Bring sights I feel and wish to share*
    But no one ever can*
    The thought could break my heart*
    It does, pieces fall*
    Too large to drop through time's glass grasp*
    They lie trapped, imprisoning memories*
    As the sand of me slips by.*
    But yet still I cannot feel*
    Each moment congeals around me*
    A skin that dulls my senses*
    Removes them one further step from reality*
    Or life; one further grain*
    What tested my palate before*
    My nose, my eyes*
    Lies jaded; like drugs*
    I must go farther*
    To speak to heaven through carved circles of white*
    One further grain, one thousand cups*
    To be as high*
    Before I fell myself*
    What I feel I cannot trap*
    Cannot enjoy, for now no illusion*
    Binds me to the eternity of youth*
    I know time passes*
    What I see will fade*
    I cannot share it*
    Make it live by passing on*
    And so I cry*
    I never knew drops could fall like sand.***


    Covered by hair like down
    Coarse, fine
    A light touch disturbs them
    My skin is soft
    The feeling pleasure
    Delight, sinful.

    Discontinuous, I
    Find my skin by parts
    You can judge a hide
    Though not what it furs

    Tickled, as my hairs move slowly
    To some gentle intelligence
    Let me discover
    What discovers me

    Some pleasures
    Are best not disturbed
    Are best cut
    Pleasure clothing darkness

    A fly returns
    To its state of being
    My loss.

    Teleology Take 1

    'I had a very strange dream last night', he said as he
    sat down with the group.They were seated around a
    table, the light seemingly coming from nowhere, mild
    daylight shadows lurking.*

    'Well first, I had a dream about a friend of mine. One
    I haven't seen in some time. When I saw him - in the
    dream - he threw earthworms at me.'*

    He leaned back in his chair, smiling at how curious
    his statement had been. Most of them - there were only
    five or six - sat on the chairs, but one was sitting
    on the edge of the table, casually.*

    'Now I - well I don't hate earthworms, but I don't
    like to have them an closer than I can help. They're
    slimy creatures, but I have a grisly fascination with
    their .... worminess, and the way they move.'*

    They were listening in silence, hardly moving except
    for occasional shifts in posture. He wasn't certain if
    he was pleased or not by that - but atleast none of
    them had left. Or had they? He wsn't quite sure how
    many of them were there - he didn't bother to turn his
    head to count.*

    'Now I didn't like that and got away, and after
    removing all the earthworms, went about again. Then I
    saw him again - we were in a lawn or garden and he was
    picking an earthworm from somewhere - from a plant I
    think, atleast not from the ground. I went up to him
    to ask him why he had thrown earthworms at me, and not
    to do it again.'*

    They lounged like lizards. Well, he would provoke a
    discussion - when he had finished the story. The whole

    'And then, before I could say much, without saying a
    word, he started throwing them at me again. And I was
    repulsed and disgusted and withdrew. And the thing was
    - there was his attitude too, half smiling as if he
    was teasing me, but half in contempt, as if he despised

    He paused. They sat in reptilian silence which spoke,
    'Is that all?'*

    'Well, after that I woke up and went to the bathroom.*

    Now I would normally have expected, a dream of rain or
    oceans and waterfalls, and that would explain my
    waking with a need to go to the bathroom. But

    Why that friend - perhaps because I hadn't written to
    him in many months, and had recently though about him
    in passing.*

    Why earthworms? Well it was the rainy season, and the
    earthworms were crawling up into the bathrooms.
    Perhaps they were symbolic of the rains and of
    bathrooms. Perhaps the throwing reflected my disgust
    with them and with leeches, which are also annelids.'*

    'But - let that pass - the strange part was when I
    went back to sleep, for then I dreamed that I had was
    telling my dream to a group of .... well, friends,
    though I didn't really know who was there. And I
    eventually realized it, and then....'*

    He paused because he suddenly realised that if he
    looked at anyone's face, he saw rather bland
    undistinguished features, which shifted, so he could
    never identify - he realized he didn't know anyone's

    At that point a young man stood up, and his features
    were shifting quickly, like the reflections off
    ripples in a pond, and you could see that he was
    greatly disturbed.*

    'Excuse me,' said the young man, 'but do I know any of

    Then he knew what was happening, and he felt himself
    fade into nothingness as the young man rippled out of
    existence. The rest sat with the faces of forgotten
    gods, bored, stone, uncaring.*

    Teleology Take 2

    Above a small village in the green part of the
    mountains there lay a shrine. To whom none could say,
    for the forest had claimed it and nothing recognizable
    remained, except for the ruined statue of a man, the
    God, standing.*

    The statue stood crumbling slowly above an altar of
    fallen leaves and creepers; vines had clambered up the
    walls to frame it, and and fallen timbers from the
    ceiling lay in the mud on the floor which had come as
    the earth slowly came and reclaimed its own - except
    for a small clear stripe where a stream ran in the
    spring and when it rained.*

    The shrine had been built facing east, so that in the
    morning the sun cast its rays on the face of the
    statue; now the stone was featureless, worn to
    indistinction by the water dropping through the broken
    skylight above. At noon the sun shone through the
    skylight, so that the statue stood in a beam of light,
    as if descended from the heavens. And in the afternoon
    the face of the statue was dark, lit from behind, but
    if one knelt at the altar one would see a halo above
    its head. The skill of the builder had been great, and
    the shrine was as much one to his skill as to the God.
    But now all lay in ruins, neither lasting more than
    the other. What the builder had believed none knew.*

    Now into the village came a man, and his progress was
    like that of the wind - for none saw him, yet all felt
    him as he came, and the trees rustled as he left. He
    drank of the water in the well around which the
    village had been built; he bathed in the river that
    ran by its side. And then he walked up the bank of the
    river. And as he walked the river became smaller, and
    then became many streams. But he followed one stream
    without hesitation, and eventually he reached the
    shrine; for it was spring, and a stream flowed through

    Whether the other streams reached other shrines no one
    knew, for none had followed them - or if any had, they
    had never returned. but the man entered the shrine and
    went to the altar.*

    And then with a rock he scratched at the base of the
    statue 'We are the breath of God'. And then he left,
    and he was the third man.*

    Then two men came from the village to the altar, and
    they read what had been carved into the stone.*

    And the first said, 'We are the breath of God, for we
    were naught but clay till God breathed life into us.'*

    And the second said, 'We are the breath of God, for it
    is we who breathe life into God, we who created him.'*

    And they stood in disagreement while the sun shone
    overhead, but neither would change his mind. Then they

    The the third man, who believed he was God, came and
    lay down at the altar, and died.*

    And a wind blew through the mountains.*