On the writing and meaning of “Mr. Clement tells his story” – Trying to grasp “life’

The writing of “Mr. Clement tells his story” is a weird one.  It happened so quickly, appeared as if out of the blue, and was done before I knew what was going on.  The story began with a basic idea that amounted to this:  a man finds a ‘secret world’ where the people sent out a mind altering gas into our world.  It made us think that we had to analyze everything and such.  In other words, the gas made us develop this idea that we had to study and understand everything.  As a result, it made us develop our basic “scientific” conception of the world that makes us “think” we know whats going on but, in reality, we don’t.  Why that idea appealed to me, I don’t know.  More importantly, why that idea made we want to write a story about it, without any idea of the plot, is even more mystifying.  I think what made it interesting is that it had to do with the idea that there is another ‘reality’ that is more ‘true’ than what we think reality is.  In other words, it revolves around the very idea of the question “what is reality?”  Eventually what happened is that this basic idea would continue to the very end of the story. 

With only that simple idea I began to write, thinking it would only be a few pages, which is why I made it like a newspaper article.  But, as I wrote it, the story grew and grew and grew.  More plots, more themes, more characters appeared as if out of nowhere.  The next thing I knew I had a complicated (at least to me) story with many happenings taking place. 

This is one of those stories that was sort of fun to write as I, myself, knew so little about what was going to happen that I was eager to see what I was going to come up with next!  To me, it is this ‘off the top of my head’ writing that makes writing so fun:  I simply do not know whats coming next.  Much of the writing in this blog, in fact, is done in this way.  As I write, things just ‘appear’, often with no idea where they come from or why.  In fact, many articles I have written were done in this way, beginning with a single sentence stating an idea.  As I begin to write about this single idea it grows and grows and, all of a sudden, many interesting ideas appear as if from nowhere.  But this has created its own problems.  One of the problems I often encounter is that this happens so fast and suddenly that I often forget what I wrote.  I often have to go back and read what I wrote to “learn” what I just said.

As I said, “Mr. Clement tells his story” was not written with any plan in mind as to what was going to happen or even a clear plote.  I just began to write.  I wrote it all in pieces.  I’d finish some parts.  In other parts, I’d leave simple notes about the basic thought I had of the plot at that point with the intention of finishing it later (such as writing ‘he tunnels underground to the bright source’).  In other parts I’d just put “??????” as I had no idea what I was going to do.  I would then read through it again and finish those pieces at a later date, often creating whole new twists in the story that made me have to modify pieces I had already written.  According to the saved versions of the story I spent about 10 days writing it.

There is a lot of meaning to this story.  I believe the basic idea was a reaction to my article called “Thoughts on observing the “nature-as-living” images – the ‘cross-self experience’ – the ‘pre-imagination’“.  It refers to seeing things like ‘fairies’ and such as well as shamanistic things (going into another world).   These things put the idea of ‘reality’ under question, perhaps bordering on madness even.  As a result, it made me wonder about the “real”.  Naturally, it made me wonder about what we think is “real” and that we may be deceived and not even know it.  This is what gave me the idea of the ‘gas’. 

The story shows some of the themes and processes and difficulty involved with searching for reality and ‘life’.  But, more importantly, it shows that once you find it you never quite know if you got it.  This is portrayed in the question of the necklace being made in China at the end.  In some sense, its as if saying that “life seems to be there but is it an illusion?”  By illusion I don’t necessarily mean as in false but as something that can’t quite be grasped.  In many ways, the story is a statement of the ungraspable nature of life.  Mr. Clement thought these events of his “life” happened but there is question to doubt it that they may not of happened at all . . . its all left unclear.

But, in addition to this, it shows stages in the discovery of this reality and that, despite what we do, we never can grasp reality or ‘life’ fully, though we do grasp it partially and in pieces.  The story seems to describe a process that goes like this:

  1. Doorway – a reference to a new state of mind that allows for a sense of life (showing that this is really a specific state of mind).
  2. Large creatures who live in dark – initial confrontation is a mystery and don’t know what it means.
  3. First confrontation with Tesk’s Warden – a reference to the discovery of inner insight but it fails because we don’t know how to use it.
  4. The ‘deer’ – shows the importance of indifference and how it can help guide us. 
  5. Jogl – a reference to being ‘established’ or ‘rooted’ in life.
  6. Going to The Great Lord – a deliberate seeking of life, which is done with Jogl, meaning its a result of being ‘rooted’ in life.
  7. The Great Lord being sick – discovering that we have not grasped life.
  8. Seeking the Bright Source – another attempt at seeking life after knowing that we have failed.
  9. The first attempt at approaching the Bright Source – refers to what we think will work doesn’t.
  10. Consulting the seed and seeking Tesk’s Warden – turning inward for insight with a knowledge to use it.
  11. Tunneling to Bright Source – using insight to help us find life.  This is often like walking in the dark and entails great difficulty.
  12. Breaking off pieces of stone and covering it up with mud – refers to fact that we can only grasp life in pieces or in segments.  We will never see it in its entirety.
  13. Curing the The Great Lord with the stone – refers to the times we do grasp life.
  14. Going back to ones world and finding that we are somewhere else – refers to how we are continually disoriented in life, even after we found seemed to of found life.
  15. The necklace being made in China – refers to the fact that we cannot ever know life.

In many ways, life is nothing but going through this process again, again, and again, a continual cycle of finding one isn’t embracing life to seeking life to embracing life to finding one hasn’t really embraced life and so on.  Because it is ongoing, and never ends, it shows that “life” is embraced not by discovering “life” but by the continual and endless process of “discovering life”.  This why I always say:

“Life is not found . . . it is discovered.”

Basically, “life” is a continual, endless, and ongoing act of discovery that is never completed.  In many ways, that’s the basic meaning of the story.

Here are some other meanings to various aspects of the story:

  • The different people that help show how there are different forms of help in life.  They really refer to different aspects of our self, each have their time and place to help us. 
  • It all begins in the woods, referring to the fact that we are dealing with a natural ‘life’, not an artificial one.  It is something that comes from within.
  • Mr. Clement as if walks through a doorway into another world and ‘falls up’.  This means the ground is ‘up’ and gravity is the opposite of what it is here.  This really refers to the fact that this other world is ‘opposite’ ours, a mirror image.  It is a world upside down from ours.  This is a reference to the fact that it is a different state of mind.  This is also seen in the story of how they discovered the seed when the boy could see the tree’s reflection but not see the tree.  It, in a way, is saying “some things require a different state of mind to see”.
  • The initial confrontation of darkness and the large creatures refers to the fact that our first confrontation with life is a mystery and can be frightening. 
  • The stealing of the seed is a reference to the importance of doing things ‘not the way we are supposed to’.  That is to say, discovery often requires us to ‘think outside the box’ and do things that defy our own understanding of whats going on.
  • The great tree is a reference to our conception of life, of our reality.  Tesk’s warden taking care of it shows how we take care of our conception of reality.
  • The Great Lord is a reference, really, to our life.  This is why, when he’s sick all the world is sick.
  • The Bright Source is a reference to the “life force”, so to speak.  
  • The Great Lord is ‘cured’ by “life”.
  • The Bright Source being too bright is a reference to how life is ungraspable and is beyond us.
  • Tunneling refers to the use of insight, and the ‘doing’ of things in life, to find “life”, that life is an active endeavour.  It also shows how “life” is often found in a roundabout way and not directly. 
  • The people who plot against their world is that part of us that works against us.
  • Recognizing the tune of Tesk’s Warden the second time, after I’ve already heard it earlier, shows that some things must be known to be found.  Had I not f heard it I would never of recognized it.
  • The underworlders destructive tendency in their world shows how different states of minds are incapatable. 
  • The hounds are prohibitions that prevent us from gaining insight.
  • The finding that necklace is made in China refers to how we are never sure of life.
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