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Scary images

Andy Stone’s editorial on May 29 was no mere “indulgence”; rather, it was a little gem which I, for one, am glad he shared.

Why? Because it was able to give precise expression to an inchoate emotion many of us are feeling, but are unable to articulate. In our day and age, where technology reigns supreme, we tend to think that only science can be precise. Not so!

The two images Andy comes up with reflect the national mood with a precision that is downright scary.



The first is a dream image: “the secretary of state armor-plates my room and prepares for war.” One cannot help feeling here the intrusive nature of the violence being perpetrated by this junta.

It is, first of all, alienating to have someone occupy my room without my permission; but then, to add insult to injury, this interloper has the gall to act like I’m the one doing the intruding – after all, it is OUR country we’re talking about here, and those in power who are hell-bent on war only derive their power from “we the people.”




And here they are intruding into our very living room, limiting our personal freedoms more and more. To top it off, the very one whose job it is to bring diplomacy to bear on the situation – the Secretary of State – turns out be getting ready for war himself!

The second image is what we would call a “screen memory”: “I remember that feeling so well, of being trapped in a speeding car on a dark night, miles away from home . powerless and a little scared.”

He wanted to stop the car hurtling into the darkness, he wanted to speak out, but, as a helpless adolescent who couldn’t yet drive, he was afraid of what those in power might say or do to him.

Although this image emphasizes how powerless we imagine our present situation to be, the very fact that Andy has been able to articulate such a precise image for this powerlessness means that he is not so powerless after all.

Through these two images he can relate to this sense of powerlessness as to an object outside himself and, therefore, is no longer constrained to identify with it subjectively. In that sense, he has already freed himself from the constricting effects of the pent-up emotion, and THAT freedom, that internal spaciousness, no one – not Colin Powell, not even John Ashcroft – can take away.

Joel Brence M.D.

Aspen