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in Sayulita, dreaming of bahA

Updated: Aug 17, 2021

Something I doodled out at the end of a trip to Sayulita, Mexico. I see it as a map of metamorphosis.

Starting at the top left, and moving right, is a series of mythic struggles-confrontations-transformations. Zeus throws a lightning bolt/jolt down onto Poseidon, prompting him to unleash the Kraken. Medusa's head freezes the Kraken's head into the moon Titan. Meanwhile below the Titanic chugs along and Icarus ascends. The line of c represents (I think?) both the sea and the speed of light. This first of three phases culminates in the sinking of the Titani...c upon the crack of the Balrog's whip.

I don't really know what that all means or how to explain it, except I will say, Icarus features strongly in my inner mythology, and I have a special connection to the Nintendo game "Kid Icarus," which my family played extensively when I was a kid. Also, one of my favorite poems is Musee De Beaux Arts by Auden, which centers around the painting the Fall of Icarus. So if I had to guess, I'd say Icarus represents me, or perhaps my spirit. And so when we see the Titan...ic crashing into the sea, and we see Icarus above as "ic," there's something of a conflation or merging there, and I think my spirit symbolically sinks as that merging into the sea.

The 2nd phase occurs between the line of c and the line of mc squared. The . represents, I believe, my spirit or soul. The spirit descends below the point where Icarus fell / the Titanic sank. It then quantumly leaps to page center & then descends three clicks into the navel of the action. The spirit is embedded in Monstro, the villanous sperm whale from Pinnochio. Meanwhile a giant squid - the for-real kraken - grasps for the spirit with its tentacles. The potential associations here are juicy, hazy, seemingly endless. Joenah and the whale? I'm a real boy? I'll stop there. To the left is a little submarine wordplaying "James Cameron" and "Joe's Camera On." The latter perhaps indicating that my conscious awareness is beholding this wrestling of/for the spirit, if only passively like cameras do. In the middle of this swoops an unlikely hero, Moby frickin Dick, who emerges upside down from above (or is it rightside up from below?) and pushes the spirit toward freedom, the surface of mc squared.

The third phase begins with Moby's breaching, symbolized by the [I}ck interrupting the surface of mc squared. Mc squared is Einstein's formulation for energy, which, as the equation demonstrates, is matter, and vice versa. I think the general arc of this piece is from the realm of imagination - mythology, lightspeed, etc. - into grounded reality. The I of Moby D...I...CK then doubles to serve as the I of "I L A N D." Two thoughts here. One, Moby Dick connects back to the stylized final word of the piece's title: bahA, backwards for Ahab, Moby Dick's nemesis. Second, this "I L A N D" represents, for me, a liminal space between the world of imagination & the real world. When I come back from a deep dive into imagination, I sometimes find myself in a decompression phase, like a diver returning from the deep, an astronaut returning from space. I'm in my body, and aware I am, but it's like my functionality and practical awareness are still downloading, so I'm not quite "all there," or at least, I'm not yet fully capable. (In those moments, my naked awareness may be more fully expanded than usual; it's a feeling of simultaneous awe and vulnerability, difficult for me to sustain comfortably without training and trust.)

On the I L A N D - my place of rebooting, so to speak - is a palm tree. From the palm tree falls a coconut. The coconut rolls from the shore into the sea, where it bobs along. I believe this coconut represents my physical head. Looking back at where Moby Dick breached, we can see a single . - the spirit symbol - spraying upwards, as though spumed through Moby Dick's blowhole. This vapor coalesces into a spirit cloud hovering above the sea. A bolt/jolt erupts from the cloud and strikes the coconut, propelling it atop a body - presumably mine - than is standing stably upon L A N D L A N D. I suppose this represents my full return from the realm of imagination: spirit is now back in my head, which is now back on my body, which is now back on land. I L A N D was where "I" hung out until my body on L A N D L A N D re-received my spirit.

One final thought, on the overall structure of the piece. It obviously plays with upside downness. Well, upside downness kinda plays with me. I've noticed that in deeply meditative states - most commonly, dare I say exclusively, in states induced by THC - I will have the somewhat dizzying experience of feeling my body in its standard orientation (rightside up) and feeling my spirit looking out at the world in an inverted orientation (upside down). It's hard to describe or recreate, the feeling of this. The closest I can come is to imagine a body normally oriented while the eyes are upside down - the brain senses simultaneously that its body is typically oriented to the earth & that its eyes are seeing strangely.

What's really bizarre is that I feel more upside down than oriented, even as I notice the body squarely oriented to the ground. As though the orientation of spirit is more determinative of orientation than the body.

In this same vein, I sometimes will experience an aspect of my consciousness take a roller coaster loop that runs in and out of my body. The loop starts at my body, proceeds forwards, loops backwards above me, and reenters my head from the rear. I feel some element of my conscious awareness making this transit, while simultaneously aware that my body, bodily awareness, and what feels like the rest of my conscious awareness, remains situated as normal. The transit typically takes about 8-20 seconds. I wonder whether the sense of upside downness is the experience of identifying with the in-transit aspect of consciousness as it completed its looping cycle. In any case, it's a wild thing to experience, and it's kinda wild to try and recall it now, in a sober and task-oriented state, where I struggle so mightily to recreate the experience that disbelief creeps in and says, "are you sure that really happened?" Fortunately I have had the experience several times now after disbelief staked its claim, and I can confirm that these experiences do indeed occur this way, and that being aware it's happening, while it's happening, is a bit like an upside down tightrope walk, where falling is returning to the experience of seeing earth as exclusively rightside up.

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