After the Afterword

Uncomfortably Numb
The Interactive Newsletter You Never Asked For

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After the Afterword
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Okay, I’m done proofing this issue, I’m in the process of recording your tapes, and my brain has just entered into its crisis/survival mode. It’s panicked, frantically trying to stop me from sending out this first issue of UnNumb. It’s pushing all the hot buttons: insecurity, doubt, fear…

Funny, just yesterday I was looking forward to that trip to the post office.

It’s appropriate that Stage Fright by The Band, just started playing on good-ol’ KFOG. I really am an “unreceptive, resistive individual.” Writing this page is the mental equivalent of having it out with myself in that alley, then dragging the battered remnants of that doubt-drenched self up onto this stage: “Hey, I told you I didn’t want to do this. I’m feeling pretty naked up here!” And, of course, uttering Berthold Auerbach’s four terrifying words: “What will people say?”

Things were moving so fast / I couldn’t comprehend it
I was first, maybe I was last / Confusion had descended
I was amazed by what had transcended / Through the pages of time
Faith is a wall I must climb

The people, they were singing / I could hear them from the street
My feelings, they were stinging / I was submerged in my defeat
But I smiled for a second / And for that second, I felt fine
Pain is a wall I must climb

So quiet is the terror / That swallows me like the night
So quiet is this sickness / And the song that I long to write
But I shall receive my passion eternally / From beyond the bitter stars that shine
Doubt is a wall I must climb

In my world of convergence / I’m a prisoner only unto me
While I wait for the emergence / Of the form I shall soon be
Until then I’ll wait in the museum / The museum of my mind
Fate is a wall I must climb

The hangman, he’s in the shadows / And he’s looking for something to do
Until we find who won the battles / Of the evil and the true
And the judges, they’re in recess / Until they receive some sort of sacred sign
Belief is a wall I must climb
—Michael McDermott / A Wall I Must Climb

I just watched They Live for the first time in a few years. Y’know, if taken literally, that film will present a pretty paranoid vision of reality. But, if you try and see another layer of communication, say, violence as a metaphor for an internal struggle, it begins to work pretty well. In this way the killing can represent the battles between enlightened concepts and programmed illusions.

I know, I know. Why am I sending you a movie with a bunch of killing in it? All I can say is, when you see it (the movie, not the killing), you’ll understand.

They Live was released shortly after I began seeing this so-called “other layer” of communication, and I gotta admit I was pretty blown-away by the story. It hit kinda close to home. I saw a lot of symbolism this time that I hadn’t recognized before. For instance: when the action moves under the city, “backstage at the show,” that may be seen as representing the subconscious; when the action moves to the roof, well . . .

Writing this has really helped me understand this phase of the story. For that, I’ve got to thank (or apologize to) all of you on the receiving end of UnNumb. I’m under no illusion that I’m in possession of all, or even most of the details of the story, but I do believe there’s something to all this. It’s a weird story, but it continues to manifest itself in ways that are then verified by my evolving perspective. Despite my insecurities and doubts and fears, it continues to seem to be real. And, if it turns out in the end that none of this is true, then someone’s been getting some pretty good laughs at my expense. Maybe the universe is run by a practical joker.

After all these pages, I feel like I should leave you with something profound to stir your deepest thoughts. So, I’ll turn to two of the twentieth-century’s most profound thinkers:

Chicks go for the intellectual types. I figured the best way to impress ’em was to read a lot of books. But hey, do you know how many books there are? Why, there must be, hundreds of them. But I was already a pretty smart guy. I didn’t waste my time reading all those books. Heck no. I read, the dictionary. Hey—I figure it’s got all the other books in it.
—Steve Martin

And they put it in front of everybody’s face and they didn’t see it. There’s a reason congress starts with the word con. It’s because con is the opposite of pro. So, congress must be the opposite of progress. Are you listening? It’s in the words! It is! Who’s gonna say it if it ain’t me?
—Gallagher

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