Quasimodo of the Multiplex

It’s faster than a mind can think,

       Flickering on the screen

Each second as the shuttle pulls

       Down a frame in between

The lamp and lens twenty four times

       And darkness makes the scene,

Light and darkness fused into one

       Image of persistence.

Cinema is already like

       Conscious experience,

Where the illusion of movement

       Arises like our sense

Perceptions into qualia.

       As the eccentric cam

Rotating moves the shuttle arms

        “I think, therefore I am.”

He speculates, threading the film

       To fit the next program.

This steward of the multiplex

       Roams the dim projection

Booth unseen above the theater,

       Like a custodian

Tending to the inner workings

       Of a mass illusion.

Operator of the machine

       Affecting spectators

Chained to the walls of Plato’s Cave,

       Asleep behind the doors

Of spurious eternity,

       Pawns in the psychic war;

A shadow play of unconscious

       Forces suggesting shapes

And forms, colors and symbolized

       Characters of escape

From a deeper reality

       Hidden in the mindscape

Of humanity. The mundane

       Duty of citizens

Is not so much to do as go

       To work for businessmen,

Squeezing dollars out of ennui.

       He was thinking again,

Boredom getting the best of him.

       Always sitting around

Made leisure itself a busman’s

       Holiday. Now the sound

Of spinning platters and shutters

       And flickers on the ground

Were synched up, so fast and steady

       Each individual

Flap blurred into a constant hum,

       And reflected the rule

Of time. Lording in this threshold

       Over the unfurled spool

Of my conscious experience.

       I’m the roaming shadow,

The projection of phantasm.

       I’m the Quasimodo

Of this multiplex. And he growls,

       Hobbling to the next show,

Seeing in ignorance the light

       Of faith. Mass refusal

To take responsibility

       And filter through the skull

Like Zoroastrian fire

       True goodness from evil;

He watched as I saw the conflict

       Between light and darkness

Resolve, rather than in my mind,

       As the actor confessed

On the screen. While true darkness hides

       In a subtler recess,

Sunk in the absolute divide

       Between outside and in

That doesn’t actually exist.

       The line is razor thin,

Where subjective experience

       Ends and the world begins.

Cooped up in the projection booth,

       The walls are celluloid

Frames that enforce this division

       Being time in a void,

Alienation that makes us

       All need to be employed.

He can’t even dream his own dream.

       His is as all the rest

A cogito shaped by the mold

       Into which it was pressed,

And shaped by the fear of losing

       What he thinks he knows best.

The illusion of persistence

       Or the fear of passing

Into nothingness, which Beauty

       Never can, is the thing

Which shields our minds from unbounded

       Time—so terrifying!

Vertigo of eternity!

       Nauseates us so much

We cling to the hand of Chronos

       Like a deified crutch,

And recoil in disgust at all

       That’s airy to the touch.

Worshipping Death more than one cares

       To realize, because one

Worships out of fear, and forgets

       To perceive of motion,

There’s no such thing as persistence

       Without dissolution.