Shadows that are Light

by Rolf Witzsche

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I had a dream about a thing that nobody could see, which was known to everyone as it made the world brighter. It was enshrined in stories and art until the day it was destroyed, precipitating the universal collapse of all that had reflected it. Is there such a thing? Some say it is love. We cannot see it, touch it, bottle it up, but we know that if it ever was withdrawn, civilization would collapse. Our world was built in its light. Without this light, what was built is destined to vanish.

We have much of its light in the world, banished by the masters who call themselves masters of empire, like Hobbes who would have banished love if he could. In the current landscape that is fast becoming cleansed of love, except in its smallest form, we find ourselves tragically unqualified to meet the Ice Age challenged that now stands near before us, which in the landscape cleansed of sanity, no one is willing to acknowledge either.


     It is rare that I dream so intensively that I awake with tears, and more so that I remember the details long past the moment of awakening. This dream was such an exception. It seemed as if a year's worth of dreaming had been all rolled into one. I remembered everything as clearly as if it really had happened, though I wished I hadn't. I wouldn't have had to deal with the strange vision then.

      Perplexed by it, and somewhat afraid that the details would fade from the mind, before I understood their significance, I told Sylvia about the dream. I described every step of it as soon as we got together for breakfast. Sylvia suggested to call everyone, inviting them to come over, Ross, Heather, Sylvia, Tony, Dag, and Al.

      Sylvia agreed that the dream needs to be kept alive, because we couldn't tell out off hand what it might mean.

      The dream was as strange as dreams often are. I was living with my dad on one of the top floors of a building several hundred stories tall, a golden tower situated on the crest of a mountain ridge. It appeared that we occupied an entire floor. We were surrounded by sunshine all day long, not by clouds. We lived above the clouds. Our world had become a world of easy living, of sun-filled days that had become taken for granted, and at the center of our world appeared this thing. It seemed to be visible in some form everywhere one looked. 'The Thing' was literally everywhere, but also nowhere. Everybody knew it, not just us. Millions had seen it, but no one had ever been able to touch 'The Thing,' or one of them, nor had a single specimen ever been captured. It just was, and was always out of reach. It wasn't a machine, so it seemed, or a biological entity, but it had a definite shape and color. Its 'color' seemed richer than the rainbow, and its 'shape' seemed so profound that it was echoed in works of art, such as paintings, sculptures, and stories, even in public art, in the parks and plazas.

      'The Thing' had appeared first on television a long time ago. It had appeared time-sliced between the ads. People were puzzled at the time, as I recalled. Eventually they let it be as one of those things that simply can't be explained. Nor could its effect be explained.

      The effect that I noticed was that the television became bigger, and its picture clearer and brighter. Everything seemed to be effected by 'The Thing' in some way. Our world became less confined, richer, and brighter. Our houses became bigger, the world cleaner, the cities more beautiful. And above all of that, which our world became, loomed 'The Thing' like an all-pervading ghost that no one knew precisely and yet everybody 'knew' instinctively from the bottom of their soul, for the simple realization that the world had been transformed by it.

      Many people revered 'The Thing' that had no name. They revered it and gave it noble names, but by and large its name remained simply, "The Thing," just as everyone had called it from the beginning.

      Some people also feared 'The Thing'. They feared that that the boundless development it caused would overburden our planet and thereby destroy it. However, those were but a few and their fears were ignored in the sunshine of the joy that this profound development unlocked. The joy became like the sand on the beaches, an ever-present reality that gets into ones hair and clothing, except in a nice way, that would be missed if it didn't.

      Still, the people who feared 'The Thing' tried to defeat it. They tried to turn the world back to the way it was before 'The Thing' emerged on the horizon. Since they couldn't capture 'The Thing' itself, they bulldozed down some of the houses that had become wonderfully spacious and beautiful in its presence. They did their attacks secretly at first, in the night, right with the people sleeping in their houses, the very people who had benefited the most from the influence of 'The Thing'. As far as I could tell from the dream nothing happened that changed anything in the world. No one protested. No one interfered. The sun kept on shining. Still, something did change.

      Something struck me as odd one day a long time later. It was something that didn't seem to be linked to 'The Thing' at all in any particular manner. I found it strange, because I hadn't noticed it before. I recalled that I needed new running shoes at the time and had mentioned the fact to my dad in passing. He nodded and said something about "accounts" and within moments a list of financial portfolios and their value flashed onto the TV screen in white letters. Seconds later the figures vanished and dad replied to me sadly that the shoes would have to wait for a week. So I didn't think much more about it, and in a week the new shoes were provided.

      Another thing also struck me as odd some time later. It seemed to me that the images of 'The Thing' that were always time-sliced between TV ads appeared less frequent than they had before, and were also less seen everywhere else. I also suddenly realized that this trend had actually begun before the incidence with the running shoes. I had dismissed the new trend at first as insignificant, until it became glaringly obvious one day that the images were no longer appearing as frequently as we had become accustomed to seeing them. I mentioned the fact to my dad, who simply laughed and said that this was a good sign, adding that we wouldn't be bothered with "this nuisance" anymore.

      Nevertheless it seemed odd that something that I had grown fond of had gradually disappeared until it could no longer be seen, except on rare occasions. All of my nagging concerns about this trend came to the foreground one day when our TV stopped functioning. The incidence of the failing TV had sorely upset my dad. He had lost access to his portfolio. In a rage of his temper that had become more intense, and always seemed linked to his portfolio, he pounded his fist on the TV as if to jolt it back to life. Instead of it coming back to life, however, the TV simply disintegrated.

      We rushed out immediately to buy a new one, an even bigger one than we had before. We were fortunate that we did, because when we returned the entire huge building in which we had lived had collapsed and crumbled into dust. Nor were we the only ones so affected. As we beheld the catastrophe, and cried over it, we looked into the valley below us, and there too, even while we looked down onto the city, where we had just come from, purchasing the new TV, as if an Earthquake had struck the whole world, the entire city in the valley disintegrated before our very eyes into a pile of rubble and dust. We suddenly found ourselves without a place to go to, forced to be living in dust and shambles, scrambling to find things to eat in the forest and to cover ourselves with leaves as shelter from the cold.

      I awoke in tears from this dream. I cried for our tragedy, but mostly because 'The Thing' that had made everything beautiful, could no longer be seen anywhere. Its images seemed to have been erased in my dream, throughout the universe, as if they had never existed.

      "What do you make of this?" I asked when Heather and Ross arrived. Tony and the girls had already come.

      "You may have seen our future as it might be," answered Sylvia. "We should make an effort to puzzle this out. It seems to be significant. On rare occasions dreams foreshadow things to come. Maybe you should also call Fred," said Sylvia to me.

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