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A Working Definition of LUCIDITY

Definition of LUCIDITY
1: clearness of thought or style
2: a presumed capacity to perceive the truth directly and instantaneously: clairvoyance.
A lucid dream is a dream in which one is aware that one is dreaming.
Being aware of the dream.  Do we live, sleep and dream?  Or are we dreaming this life and the dream state is actually our existence? 
“Today, a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration – that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There’s no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we’re the imagination of ourselves.”
~Bill Hicks
Somewhere in his career comedian Bill Hicks described Rick Astley as a “banal incubus”.  I think Hicks was a much more advanced human than most of us.
William Burroughs had his own take on dreams.  And thumping around the internet I found this:
“What a horrible loutish planet this is. The dominant species consists of sadistic morons, faces bearing the hideous lineaments of spiritual famine swollen with stupid hate. Hopeless rubbish.”
~from My Education: A Book Of Dreams (Burroughs)
If we can control a lucid dream then it stands to reason that if this life is a dream, or ‘the imagination of ourselves’, as Hicks said, can we not rise above those ‘faces bearing the hideous lineaments of spiritual famine swollen with stupid fate?’  One might argue yes, but if we cannot, then life must not be dream.  Or maybe it was, and now, because this imagining has gone out of control, we no longer dream this life clearly…we are observing this imagination through a glass, darkly…the perspective skewed…all gone horribly wrong? 
And now, to hoist a phrase from Monty Python, for something completely different:
“There is no route out of the maze. The maze shifts as you move through it, because it is alive. ” 
~Philip K. Dick, from Valis
Or this one from PKD:
“If reality differs from person to person, can we speak of reality singular, or shouldn’t we really be talking about plural realities? And if there are plural realities, are some more true (more real) than others? What about the world of a schizophrenic? Maybe it’s as real as our world. Maybe we cannot say that we are in touch with reality and he is not, but should instead say, His reality is so different from ours that he can’t explain his to us, and we can’t explain ours to him. The problem, then, is that if subjective worlds are experienced too differently, there occurs a breakdown in communication … and there is the real illness.”
My man Thomas Pynchon once wrote:
“It’s been a prevalent notion. Fallen sparks. Fragments of vessels broken at the Creation. And someday, somehow, before the end, a gathering back to home. A messenger from the Kingdom, arriving at the last moment. But I tell you there is no such message, no such home — only the millions of last moments . . . nothing more. Our history is an aggregate of last moments.” 
~from Gravity’s Rainbow
Our history is an aggregate of last moments…The inverse from this macro view is our own individual life: we are only lucid at those last moments, on the cusp of each event, straddling from an argument to reconciliation, from ignorance to knowledge, from uncertainty to confidence, from hate to love, from self-loathing to self-love.  The old adage: our lives pass before us as we die is not true.  It is only last moments that blur the penultimate ones.
Lucid:
Pronunciation:  /ˈl(j)uːsɪd/
Etymology:  < Latin lūcid-us, < lūcēre to shine. Compare French lucide.
  1. Bright, shining, luminous, resplendent. Now poet. and techn.Entomol. and Bot. = Smooth and shining. Astron. Of a star: Visible to the naked eye.
Visible to the naked eye…shining, luminous, resplendent…these are qualities in a life not meant to be experienced continuously…what makes us human is our capacity to experience lucidity in small doses…the alternative is reserved for angels…unless they are deranged angels, as PKD says, then they are simply men…

If a Miracle Occurs and There’s No One There To Give Witness

So, here’s the thing: I started writing a novel a few weeks back with an opening that goes like this:
Before going to bed one night, Jimmy Mullen laid out everything he needed for the last morning of his life.  His suit was cleaned and pressed; likewise, his shoes were shined.  After dinner, Mullen took three neckties from his closet.  He painstakingly knotted them together and fashioned the makeshift cord into a noose.  For several weeks, Mullen busied himself with the task of finding the perfect venue for his exit.  He did not want to be so far removed from civilization that it might take weeks before someone found him.  Hanging, by his estimation, was a gallant way to leave this world.   
The idea for this present novel came in a dream.  I know: you’re thinking ‘yeah, right’.  Actually, it was one phrase I heard in my sleep. 
This novel is something of a departure for me, owing to my taste for the fantastical in fiction (not to mention some good old-fashioned horror).  My hurdle with this one is to portray a story in which a miracle of sorts occurs that affects everyone in the town where my main character Jimmy Mullen lives; that is, to portray a story but leave out any magic realism, fantasy, etc and keep the story grounded in the real world. 
Miracles, depending on what your belief system might be, may occur every day without our knowing.  Or if you happen to be of the agnostic or atheistic bent you may ascribe certain unexplainable occurrences to chance, chaos theory, etc.  Whatever the case, my intention then is to write a novel in which said miracle may or may not have a positive effect on Mullen my main character who intends, at the start of the novel, to take his life.
Right now, if I have even one reader of this god-forsaken blog, someone is reading this and thinking: oh no, O’Brien wants to kill himself.  Why else would he write about a guy who is suicidal?  Of course, people said the same thing about Michael Chabon when he published his Mysteries of Pittsburgh novel.  Any man who can write about two men having sex must be gay.  I submit that you look up Chabon and his beautiful wife Ayelet Waldman and tell me what you think. More to the point, however; though a more historical reference; is Stephen Crane who wrote with such realism about The Civil War despite being born after the war.
Anyway, back to my dilemma: Mullen is a guy who believes he’s been a dealt a bad hand throughout most of his adult life.  What I mean to show in this novel is how Mullen’s beliefs, distorted and undoubtedly crippling to him, do not jive with what’s real, and certainly not with what’s true.  Yes, his inferiority complex has kept him from striving to reach certain goals; but early in his life his mother steered him on a course that was detrimental to the path he should have taken.  Yes, he married and divorced a woman who was, shall we say, more independent than he (or at least possessing the chutzpah to live a life without regret; despite what society deems appropriate).  In the end, or more specifically as the novel opens, Mullen asks for a sign, any sign, a minor miracle if you will, to show him that his life is worth living despite a succession of disappointments, failures and enduring pain that has defined who he is.  His answer comes in a form that not only affects him, for better or worse, but his community as well.
So where was I?  I am 30,000 words into this new baby of mine (or ¼ finished, give or take tens of thousands of words).  And while I continue to plot an outline and write diligently every day, often creating character stories that have nothing to do with the novel itself (I think this little time-consuming exercise helps to make for characters that are more whole), I am not sure how things will turn out for Mullen. 
As with the majority of my stories I have written over the years, and a few novels that never saw the light of day, I often write the end before the book is even finished.  Or if I can’t write the final chapter I at least can write a summary detailing how the story will wind up.  The same goes for this new novel.  Still, I’m torn. 
The question that plagues me now is two-fold: are miracles enough to change the course of a man’s life, and if they are, does a man even recognize them, even the little ones, when those miracles occur?
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