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588. The clinging (XIII)

As an addendum to yesterday’s extensive Charlie Manson article, I had some very peculiar dreams last night. “No doubt you would, if you filled your head with that stuff,” scoffs the sceptical observer. Yes, of course, I must concede on the ordinary level if you imbibe material that deeply disturbs then you will probably have bad dreams; however, my dreams were less bad than strange.

Initially, I dreamed about Richard Nixon—only mentioned in passing in the previous article. In a bizarre twist it turned out he was homosexual; he was very furtive about this fact—and it made me painfully awkward to be in the same room as him, at any moment I was sure his aides would find out. Now, I do not take this literally—I think Nixon was heterosexual; possibly my mind conflated my brief mention of Nixon with Manson’s situational jailhouse homosexuality which eventually transmuted into a voracious heterosexual appetite outside. The above constitutes, in my view, “normal dreaming” where the mind mixes up and reprocesses events from the day.

The second phase disturbs more, I awoke convinced that a huge spider—quite grotesque—hovered over my head, and then appeared at the bed’s lower end; it moved steadily towards me. It disturbed me to such a degree that I jumped up awake and rushed out to the landing to turn on the bathroom light; however, as with many such dreams, by the time I arrived at the landing I had no idea why I was there. I had that half-dream half-waking sensation where I was palpably afraid and thought there was some “thing” in the house with me—although I could not say what, or see it. I had to go back to sleep and wake up the next morning to recall that it had been the spider that had descended/crawled towards me.

The salience to the previous article is that I especially noted Manson’s affinity for spiders—for the tarantula—and the way he used these in sympathetic magic, and the arachnid association with the Family’s “creepy-crawl” home invasions prior to the Tate-LaBianca murders. The rational explanation is that my mind processed the day’s experiences in this form—especially the novel observation about Manon’s spiders. However, the sensation that there was a “presence” in the room was palpable—and the quasi-hypnotic “waking dream” aspect coupled with short-term amnesia is also suggestive.

Further, before bed I noticed that other people in the house exhibited an unusual degree of movement—and were disturbed. My dog woke up twice in the night whereas he usually sleeps through and, at about six o’clock in the morning, he began to bark repeatedly—very unusual for him. I went down to find him sat in the entrance hallway to the house barking away, even though there was nothing there—the curtains were drawn, and usually he barks at his own reflection or movement in the garden; yet everything was neatly sealed off. On the other hand, his tail moved very rapidly—so he was not exactly frightened, otherwise his tail would be rigid.

A visit from Manson’s psychic residue, as instantiated by the spider? A “creepy-crawl” in my own home—quite possible, my article was constructed with certain significant numerical values in mind. Manson himself maintained that you should always be paranoid—to be alive is to be in a state of constant paranoia. Doubtless this originated in his upbringing in a dangerous prison environment, yet it also echoes the view voiced by his fellow quasi-shaman William S Burroughs: “A paranoid is someone who knows a little something about what is going on. A psychotic is a guy who's just found out what's going on.” Manson and Burroughs advocated for a profound awareness, an awareness mainly based on hostility—on the notion that this is primarily a war universe. An alternative to paranoid awareness, based on fear, would be an awareness based on life’s finitude—on death’s presence in life, paradoxically a more calm position.


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