March 15 Wallace Stevens: Disillusionment of Ten O’Clock

I read somewhere that the end of delusion is the beginning of enlightenment, but then what do we lose? And are some dreams worth losing? What happens when we lose all of our dreams and settle into a comfortable, easy life? What happens when we become all work and no play?  Do we become the drag, beige curtains that hang about the beautiful windows of the model home? What happens when all of our needs are satisfied and no longer need to strive?

This question strikes an image in my mind. It comes from an article I read about a zoo keeper who made his lions have to hunt to find their food. He noticed that they were become dull and listless. “If you give him food and a mate, you take away his reason to leave the cave, all he’ll do is sleep, ” said the zoo keeper.

I broke my knee and they had to keep my leg in a brace for 6 weeks. I didn’t want to go to the physical therapist, but the doctors told me that my leg muscles had atrophied, “if you don’t go, you’ll lose the ability to walk.” And it was costly, and a huge, painful struggle, but I would’ve rather put a hole in my head than lose the ability to walk – walking is freedom and adventure; I’m not losing that!

“It’s not so bad to be dull,” we think, but dull leads to atrophy – lack of life and luster and ultimately to death. So perhaps the comfortable life isn’t so comfortable after all. And anybody asks why the alienation, the vague sense of dissatisfaction, you wink and say, “take a long walk to a place you’ve never been, leave your phone and your compass and your gps behind. Talk to strangers, try to find out their secrets. Take a step towards that impossible dream that you’re certain can never come true. Quit that job – yes, in this economy – that makes you so miserable. Climb on a boat that sails to lands unknown – and take as many photos, and eat as many strange foods, and drink as much wine, and sing in as many sing-alongs as you can, steal an apple, write bad poetry, paint terrible watercolors, lavish yourself with expensive chocolates, have your fortunes read by gypsies and then ask yourself that question once again.”

Disillusionment of Ten O’Clock

by Wallace Stevens

The houses are haunted
By white night-gowns.
None are green,
Or purple with green rings,
Or green with yellow rings,
Or yellow with blue rings.
None of them are strange,
With socks of lace
And beaded ceintures.
People are not going
To dream of baboons and periwinkles.
Only, here and there, an old sailor,
Drunk and asleep in his boots,
Catches tigers
In red weather.


About penneloppe

I like to write horror, dark fantasy and crime fiction. Sometimes, I'll write science fiction, but usually I like to write science fact. I also write screenplays and stage plays. My day job is office work. I live in Seattle and I have a cat.
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