China-focused Satire, Social Commentary, Comics and More

The War on Dreams: Part XI


The crumbling metal plow rolls slowly along its rusty tracks.

It has come from one place; it is going to another.

The sky is pure – the light falls sharply, drawing with precise contrast the shapes of leaves and trees, of cool striped railings, signposts, idling vehicles, and the eager, anticipating figures of two full-grown men.

Criminals.

Look at them – the one, his hands tickle the fibers of the sign (careful, train, it says) with boyish impatience as he feels the rhythm of the approaching locomotive vibrate up into his body, knocking loose every carefully-placed obstruction to his imagination; and the other, much older, too weak perhaps to await with such unbridled physical joy, sees this coming beast and experiences a strange sensation – something akin to deja vu – a slight flicker, flash, in his old mind. He remembers, in no definite sense, a long-tamed feeling that once kicked and beat upon the walls of his soul. What a funny thing, he thinks.

Criminals.

Careful, train. If only such signage was enough! Perhaps it is one small deficiency of the struggle against dreams – though we wouldn’t dare contemplate such things – that to keep everyone from moving you must bring everything to them. This requires the allowance of such dangerous forces as the steam powered train. Careful – if only it could be cloaked, hidden in an endless series of opaque tubes, or if only that sound could be silenced! That rhythm which for so long bred crazy notions in loose-footed boys and girls; which so magically appears at the lips of children with wooden toys – a chug a chug a chug. That sound of movement, possibility, unknown lands; that sound so present in the suffering music of slaves and the descendants of slaves. The sound of dissent.

These men will be punished. They should know better. It is not enough to be careful. One must be vigilantly uninterested, uninspirable. One must see things only as the tools they are – only for what they bring to you, not for the distant places their coming and going represent. One must be careful. One must be deaf.

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