The following is part of The Focus of Life, a trance-writing by Austin Osman Spare. Please see The Focus of Life for a more complete explanation.
THE DREAMS OF AAOS
THE I AND THE ARCANUM
One day the time drew near for the experiment and Aaos was watching the waters, to make arcana by arbitrary projection into the utter void of his isolation. And this was his wish: "In future my dreams shall interpretate themselves as will (i.e. reaction)."
For, he reasoned: "Why not live asleep all suffering?"
Aaos had lived the preliminary ritual of habit in the cesspools and exhausted them in the mountains. Before projection he prayed thus to the waters:
"O thou I, vice versa - my God. I at least shall not be thy jest. In life I have realized possibilities not contained in heaven - amidst a cowardice inconceivable but accomplished everywhere. I have made known (opening his book) something that is different to the muck of retouched photography which men call reality: although it has been the evil habit of thousands of years. I have created art (lived belief) that surpasses all evolved conception. I have incarnated that which I need to rationalize: Verily - not the ever present portraiture of experience to satisfy the ovine: No obvious allegory of asses-thinking God: No still-life group of empty bottles and old maids commonplaces: Nor the gay-tragedy of song. But strange desires of stranger arcana. The law I make while thinking God - and will smash and remake again: so that I may commit every conceivable sin against its word. My utility has been - my pleasure - that alone is my service to man and to heaven, in that I am the Goat."
After his devotion Aaos prepared for the Death posture and judgement. Awaking from the awful wrath - his teeth chattering, his limbs shivering and drenched with a cold perspiration, he allowed the ague to exhaust itself and thought thus:
"Verily, I have nothing to forgive or repent...Alas! what fears this I but its own conditions? Man will create the faster moving body outside himself - always prefering compulsion to the infinite possibilities of freedom. Alas! Alas! that which is ornamental reacts its uselessness - the symbol 'I was.' The necrologue of love - is utility."
Then rising from his couch and taking an ecstatic inbreath:
"Again would I die violently and jest at God."
The operation having exhausted him he suffered this daydream:
"The waters became murky, then muddy, and movement began. Going nearer, he observed - a phosphorescent morass crowded with restless abortions of humanity and creatures - like struggling mudworms, aimless and blind: an immense swamp of dissatisfaction; a desire smashed into pieces."
With his will, the dream changed and he became in a vast warehouse-cum-brothel. Realizing his whereabouts he muttered:
"Such is life, an endless swallowing and procreation, morally, man is a bastard."
The floor was strewn with dirty clothes and candle ends: knowing the strangest women, nothing was pleasing enough...so his attention wandered to the upper story. He was certain he had been there before by a staircase. But now, there was no easy means of access. He would have to climb whatever served. After much painful effort he managed to reach and hang on to the balustrade of the upper floor. There, he noticed the store contained innumerable strange effigies and new creations of humanity. He struggled further along to obtain an easy means of ingress, thinking:
"Where there is desire - there shall be found the desired sleeping partner. What is true, is pleasurable Self. I have now reached the sixth letter of the alphabet."
When suddenly he observed another and more agile following him - who when reaching Aaos, clutched hold of him - shouting:
"Where I cannot reach, thou too shall not ascend."
Their combined weight became too heavy - the balustrading collapsed and they both fell...Aaos felt himself falling as into a bottomless pit - when with a start he awoke, and after introspection spoke to his heart:
"Verily I have fallen in love with a new belief and become moral! This I reflects itself differently. What was once easy - is now difficult. All reflections are radiated matter incarnating. Who doth know what his own stillness refracts at the time of its projection? Who would suspect afterthought without consciousness? The I, to be self prophecy - without a conglomeration of old clothes - is by a deliberation previous to will - to be noumenal; is anterior to time. Forgive? (i.e. to free from consciousness). Yea, a thousand times! so that the desire become large and insane enough to self-will. How can memory forget - when we invented reaction? What is all bad memory - but morality? What is will but reaction - impulsed from the accidents of I?"
Then Aaos remembered he had conditioned his realization by thought of time and remarked:
"So ends in the part sexuality - all asses' magic that premeditates time. Much thought destroys the nerve. The arcana knows more than the I wills: and thus should I have it."
Then Aaos laughed aloud and spoke:
"Up! Up! my sexuality! and be a light unto all that is in me!"
For he had - while contemplating - eluded his I and knew he would shortly obtain...And thus he found a new use for his righteousness.
SELF-LOVE AND MAP MAKING
Aaos in his youth had many dreams, pleasing and otherwise; awake and in his sleep. Frequently, fragments of dreams haunted him for many a day, but they were of his marriage bed. After his divorce he slept alone with his sword. Aaos once dreamed he was still asleep, and this was his dream:
"He had been exploring an unknown country and having returned, was busy making maps from his rough sketches and memoranda. He was surprised how fresh was his memory of every questioned detail, at the ease with which his hand drew the mountains and contours of that unknown country. His dexterity became too pleasing and threatened an event long ceased and then forgotten."
By his determination he awoke and was able to calm the excited passion. He was consoled that nothing had happened. Then he spoke to himself thus:
"What new deceit is this? Must I be for ever solving the changing symbolism of the wretched morality - called 'I'? Do I still need a loincloth for my passions? Verily, to be alone and map drawing is now an unsafe art! Sleep? This sexual excitement still obtains. Procreation is with more things than women. The function of the sexuality is not entirely procreation: stranger experiences are promised than ever imagination conceived! One must retain - to give birth to will. Behold! my Self-love, thee I pleasure too well, to let slip into other being!"
AAOS AND THE UNDERTAKER
One dark night, leaving the tavern more or less sober and wandering without thought, I arrived at a well illuminated undertaker's shop. Intoxicated, I am always curious of the work in such places - so here I paused. At that moment, the door was flung violently open and five drunken undertaker's assistants lurched into me. I objected in a mild way, they being numerous and I thinking that drunkards are lucky...But that any resistance or excuses I might offer would be unsatisfactory was too apparent. They had reached the quarrelsome state and I discovered - I knew these men too well! From argument to foul accusations (and what did they not call me?) came blows - I thought it safer not to run away. Did I fight well? I know they did and with drunken humour dragged me into the shop to purchase a coffin. Within, came recognition - Alas, too truly they knew me! From then no quarter was given. That drunken fight among the dead and funeral furniture was hopeless for me.
I was robbed, stripped, spat upon, kicked and bound - what abuse did I not suffer? I think the humiliation and blows rendered me unconscious! But, I was not to rest so easily - they soon brought me back to consciousness for worse things...And I was told they had recently finished making my wife's coffin. They then forced me to view her dead body. Even in my pitiable state, I thought of the beauty of her corpse. Again, they reviled me because of her: she who, if I had not neglected her, would still be living. I, the whoremonger, betrayer of women, and arch-abnormalist. After much other insult; they told me my fate.
I was given the choice of being burnt to death or buried alive with her! Naturally my choice was to be alone. But no such chance was to be mine. I was buried alive with her corpse. With their combined weight forcing on the lid. I thought I was dead (for did I not hear the rushing winds?) when doubt crept into my soul. Then realization of life dawned when I felt that cold corpse crushed against my body by the tightness of the coffin; never have I realized such horror! With a mighty yell, my after suspiration burst that overcrowded coffin into fragments!
I arose, thinking I was alone. But no, sitting by the corpse, amid the debris was - the devil grinning! To be alone and half alive with the devil is not a welcome anti-climax...Then he spoke unto me:
"Coward! where was thy courage, even against drunken enemies? Ah ah! Thou hast indeed willed pleasure! Who has the power, Thou or I? What medicine for the dead Gods! Thou wretched scum of littlenesses - heal thy gaping wounds, thou art more fitted to pray than to prey."
Much more did he utter, till my very ears closed. With a body torn to pieces, crushed in every part - what was I to answer? My silence compelled him again to speak:
"Hast thou no complaint?"
In a mighty rage - for this was a worse goad than all my earlier suffering - I answered:
"Curses, no! Keep your possessions. I will pleasure. Do your utmost! This poor thing my body you will again replace!"
Then I fought the devil and behold, I became alone! What happened? I, in my miserable plight, not even my teeth left - how could I have conquered the devil? Did I become a succubus? Perhaps - I became the devil? But this I know - I did will pleasure. And from this day shall smile in all men's faces.
Then Aaos awoke and murmured:
"Belief and desire are the great duality which engender all illusions that entangle the senses (i.e. sexuality) and prevent free will. What is all accidental suffering but reaction from dead loves now become diableries. How much are we sensible of body? Yet the composition of the body is its relationship between consciousness and all creation. Without doubt I am now an undertaker!"
THE DEATH OF TZULA
In his sleep Aaos one day met his sister Tzula and learned she was thinking of marriage and she questioned him thus:
"My most loved brother, what is your opinion of entering marriage? I would be guided by your experience and cunning on sexual matters. My body is weak from desire and suffers a horrible restlessness that surprises my habits of virginity."
"What cause is there for astonishment? This life force acts and invents from itself; even when the usual channels of expression are open. How much more so-when closed and the nature non-moral? With deceivers, one may well promise and not fulfil for this end, that with a double will there shall be satisfaction without the labour of birth. Resist not desire by repression: but transmute desire by changing to the greater object."
"Alas! this dreadful thing of desire seeks its liberation in willing opposite to all my efforts of conciliation: Cannot marriage be my emancipation?"
"O my sister, must thou become ever smaller from thy small desires? Oh! renounce half-desiring, much better is it to marry the evil. For thee my sister, I wish no marriage but the marriage of the greater love. For I announce, the day to come, yea it is nigh, thy absorption in a male incarnation. What is nature but thy past will incarnated and removed from consciousness by its further desires? The relationship still living provokes the involuntary purpose - thy opposition to which causes disease, and is but resistance of the I to the Self. Bind thy desire by attention on Thy love of desire - lest it wholly runs away. Prevent thy belief from incarnating through this consciousness of the ever present greater desire. Forestall the inclinations of desire by this and not by other means of exhausting desire. Neither abstinence nor over indulgence necessarily destroys. Verily, my sister I would have thee a male incarnation."
Then he became sleepy his sister becoming dim and the dream more meaningless, till he felt something that made him start with horror - awaking he perceived someone leave his couch!
Aaos seizing his sword gnashing his teeth, trembling in every limb, and with ghastly visage, shouted:
"Alpha and Omega! Thou thyself shall throttle that which thou wouldst surpass," And swung his sword which struck horribly...
Then shaking the perspiration from his head he muttered to himself;
"Verily! again am I the pitiable moralist, the drowsiest of watchmen. Sisters were ever deceivers! All virgins are foolish; What does their virginity matter?"
Then clasping his sword again he went to his couch and tried to rest but no sleep came, until daybreak: for he wondered who his sister was.
THE BUTCHER OF THOSE WHO FOLLOW
In a dream, Aaos one day crossed the borderline and wandered into the flat country towards what seemed, in the half-rain, a deserted heap of ruins. Arriving closer to the city, there issued from it a dreadful stench accompanying agonizing groans. Entering the gates Aaos found it a vast slaughterer's abattoir; an endless shambles of dying bodies tied in sacks. The black mud of the streets was streaming blood, the carnal houses bespattered - the very atmosphere pulsating agony; the grey sky reflecting its red. Holding his nose and stopping his ears Aaos walked on...Then he paused and his frightened eyes watched the work of slaughter and he observed that every victim was already beheaded, but not dead, that they were sheep and being bled to death.
As he watched the mass of writhing corpses in that foul Bedlam of death groans - made more loathsome by the ribald jesting of the slaughtermen, the scene became more vast, more heathenly impossible, when he noticed towering before him a giant shape with gory sheepskin used as loincloth, who, with a shrill voice shouted:
"Woe unto you that seek this awful place of satiety. I am the guardian named Necrobiosis, in order that there may be mobility!"
Then seeing Aaos he laughed hideously, and addressed him thus:
"But why cometh Aaos in the close season? Thou old dodger of Time, thou eye winking at all things! For thou canst will love in that which is most repulsive. Away O Aaos, Thou too art an arch-slaughterer of sheep."
Then the giant gave an awful grimace and turned his back, snapping his teeth and howling like a dog. Becoming larger and larger till of cosmic vastness, thus he disappeared.
When Aaos awoke, he muttered to himself:
"Beyond time there is a sensation as of awaking from the utmost impossibility of existence from the mad dreams we call reality; the stupidities we call will."
Then Aaos arose to fill his lungs with fresh air and have the good of motion.
ON THE ANNOUNCER OF GREAT EVENTS
One night, Aaos dreamed he was mournfully labouring his way uphill, through an endless ruin of cities. The streets were a chaos of debris - the air heavy with the stale stench of damp charred wood and mouldeing refuse.
Nowhere saw he a sign of life - The sky was dead and breathless.
Stumbling along till his body sickened. Wearily he paused to rest and looking down, noticed the litter of a manuscript. Stooping, he chose the nearest fragment, and this was what he read:
"I too was once a mighty pleasure garden of all things that enchanted the senses; possessing men and women of every desirable form and nationality. All the hidden treasures of nature were exhibited with art and cunning accident. No desire could be ungratified...What am I now? A putrid mess and dust of dead habitations. An empty wine skin destroyed and gone rotten! O, stranger, what is the cause of my desolation?"
Aaos, sitting down, mused long to himself:
"When the very ground beneath one's feet collapses, what is secure? What chance of escape - but foreknowledge? Would the study of grammar, or correct pronounciation of language, save one?"
While he was thus meditating, suddenly he was afraid and gave a start. For beside his shadow grew another shadow. And when he looked round, there stood before him an illuminated youth who said:
"Awake Aaos, This sorry ruin thou didst cause by thy greater love. All these pleasures were but dreams, which awoke too violently. What is all sexuality but the infinite synonyms of Self-love; self created and destroyed? These pleasures now dead, suppressed their own antecedent indulgence by afterthoughts of women. All original thought, once suppressed becomes volcanic."
Aaos, winking his eye, answered:
"When asleep, one should procreate in barren soil?" at which they both smiled.
After they had surveyed each other, Aaos arose and left the youth. Surmounting an eminence he searched the sky long, until he observed the faint glow of the sun struggling through the mists, he spake thus:
"Abstinence from righteousness by total indiscrimination, becomes limitlessness. O Sun! like thee, I too will kiss all things and sleep alone, so that they propagate my ecstasy!"
Awaking Aaos remembered his purpose, and spoke to his heart:
"The arcana of desire (i.e. Self-love) would be satisfied with none but its original Self - by the unique. Thus my morality taught me by dream symbols. As in life, so in sleep - all things have a sexual significance, hidden by righteousness. Herein is a mystery and the means to will. What is all humanity but one's own forgotten deliberation - becoming restless? The unexpected bark of a dog should not frighten. Neither is medicine taken by pronouncing the name of the remedy. Verily, in the time of cataclysm it is too late to pick the right word."
THE DREAM THAT CAME TRUE
One night Aaos was pleasured with this dream:
In his early youth, he met a beautiful maiden - famous among men who knew perfection. She was everything desirous, even to her name. He became her lover, and knew her...to be true. But an evil voice spoke unto him and he doubted her, believing the voice - because it was of one he had made his friend. In youth-like rage he cast aside his lover and wandered into marriage of every kind, without satisfaction. Then the evil voice died. For years Aaos wandered restlessly seeking, but never finding his lost love: thinking they were both in Hell.
Then in his utmost weariness and despair, he thought much more deeply; and at last realized that the dream was the time for magic. And then he willed...With the new moon his wish was materialized and again he met his first and only love. Their hearts being still virgin, Aaos spoke unto her:
"Out of Chaos have I awaked and found thee, O beloved. Death itself shall not part us; for by thee alone will I have children."
And they married and were ecstatic thereafter: for in their ecstasy he noticed Death smile.
Aaos then awoke still living their ecstasy, and breathing heavily, spake to himself thus:
"When the thing desired is again incarnated at the time of ecstasy; there can be no satiety. ONE! we now part. All things are possible with the original belief, once again found. The belief, simultaneous with the desire, becomes its parallel and duality ceases. When ecstasy is transcended by ecstasy, the I becomes atmospheric - there is no place for sensuous objects to conceive differently and react. Verily, greater will has no man than to jest in ecstasy: retain thyself from giving forth thy seed of life."
Aaos rising from his couch threw away his sword and exclaimed aloud:
"Now for reality!"
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