Dreams Are Truthful Manifestations: Life, Death, and Despair at Waimea Bay
Peter Maguire's revision & repost of a reflection on Super Bowl Sunday 2006
You say it is the good cause that hallows even war? I say to you: it is the good war that hallows every cause.
War and courage have done more great things than love of one’s neighbor. Not your pitying but your bravery has so far saved the unfortunate.
What is good? you ask. To be brave is good. Let the little maidens say: “To be good is to be pretty as well as touching.”
They call you heartless: but your hearts are true, and I love the modesty of your heartiness. You are ashamed of your flood, and others are ashamed of their ebb.
— Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Book One § 10, “On War & Warriors,” Friedrich Nietzsche)
My friend, the historian, journalist, screenwriter, ghostwriter, surfer, Brazilian jiu jitsu blackbelt (from the esteemed Rickson Gracie, no less),1 and all around bon vivant, Peter Maguire has revised and reposted another one of my essays on his Substack “Sour Milk.”2 Peter’s version is somewhat re-arranged and slightly shorter than the original. I enjoyed reading my words on the perspective of another writer, which reminds me that I probably need an editor. I trust that you will enjoy reading his revision. In any case, Peter graciously shared my essay with his readers, some of whom have already responded positively and with profound insight.
A gentilhomme that should probably remain unidentified for now (given his clandestine vocation), had rather interesting things to say about “Dreams.” He knows something about risk and consequence, having lived (and almost died) in combat war zones and elsewhere on the proverbial edge. This is what he wrote yesterday in response after reading Peter’s revision of my “Dreams” essay:
That’s a story I often ponder over and still have trouble finding a happy medium. What interests and fascinates me is what we have inside us (some of us) and it’s the subconscious decision-making process when we take a slight pause and step forward. What goes through your brain in that pause, if broken down would fill volumes of books. But it takes literally 2 or 3 seconds and often ends with a “fuck it”. That fuck it is the risk spectrum. Green on the left red on the right and amber above.
Those that play in the amber zone and go close to the red are the Hunter gatherers. Loners often in the sense that they don’t need to follow the crowd but the same types that have friends with similar mindsets and only stick with a handful; the types you’d call and they’d be there. I’m absolutely positive this mindset is built through evolution and the others, those that only play with a large crowd in the green zone are those that will one day develop into a weaker sub-species of urban dwellers who can’t survive outside of that environment.
Laurence Gonzalez wrote a fascinating book called: “Deep Survival: Who lives, who dies, and why.”3
There he delves into the brain itself and it’s make up and many examples of “Who lives, who dies, and why” — well worth a read.
Erich Maria Remarque, in his book “All Quiet on the Western Front” wrote something that resonates with me and many I guess that “steps forward after a fuck it” :
“At the sound of the first droning of the shells we rush back, in one part of our being, a thousand years. By the animal instinct that is awakened in us we are led and protected. It is not conscious; it is far quicker, much more sure, less fallible, than consciousness. One cannot explain it. A man is walking along without thought or heed;--suddenly he throws himself down on the ground and a storm of fragments flies harmlessly over him;-yet he cannot remember either to have heard the shell coming or to have thought of flinging himself down. But had he not abandoned himself to the impulse he would now be a heap of mangled flesh. It is this other, this second sight in us, that has thrown us to the ground and saved us, without our knowing how. If it were not so, there would not be one man alive from Flanders to the Vosges.”
I went for a swim once near Kuta beach in Bali, beautiful evening. You get these weird double waves there, I used to love diving through the first and then letting the second take me in almost sat on it. Extremely calming experience. Problem was 1: it was evening and 2: I’d been drinking. I dived through the first wave, came up, went to take a breath of air and second, much larger wave smashed me in the face, sent me straight down to the bottom and span me. Didn’t know what up or down was, it was also dark. When it spat me out (thankfully the rip didn’t drag me away) the hotel guards were on the beach. Screaming at me “sharks now big tigers” - fuck sake. Never trust a “fuck it” after a whiskey.
I’m as intrigued as him by the question or issue of “the subconscious decision-making process when we take a slight pause and step forward.” And he’s quite right that “[w]hat goes through your brain in that pause, if broken down would fill volumes of books.” Some of us are wired differently that others, I suppose. And I know full well that I am (or whatever “the self” is that composes “my” body, mind, & will) merely the result or realization of evolutionary/existential possibility/opportunity confronted with a particular moment in space and time. Call it context. Or chance. Whatever it is has less to do with conscious volition and more to do with an inherited legacy of basic instinct (a multiplicity of drives and affects) that actualizes in an instant. Mere coincidence or Fate? We all serve the whims and fancy of what Nietzsche calls “Lord Chance” or that which Lucretius — in his magnum opus “De Rerum Natura” (The Way Things Are) — named the “Cosmic Swerve.” Although, that’s a matter for another conversation or essay — soon to come I trust. Amor Fati.
Shall we not, like archers who have a mark to aim at, be more likely to hit upon what is right? — Aristotle (“The Nicomachean Ethics” §1094a 22-24)
For now, please review Peter’s revised edit and let me (and him) know what you think. Check out “Sour Milk,” read “Breathe” (which I plan to review in the near future — it’s an excellent book), get outside, breathe deep (always through one’s nose), aim high, and do something challenging and fun. Endeavor and Enjoy, as my father often said to his boys. Aloha!
Huelo Hale, Paumalu 2022
SEE the recently published memoir of Rickson Gracie’s extraordinary life, which Peter co-wrote with his friend and Sensei.