EMBER IN THE BRAIN
Dreamed 1983/3/31 by Chris Wayan
A FEW DAYS EARLIER
I went to see FRANCES, starring Jessica Lange as Frances Farmer, whose mom groomed her as a child actress, ruled her life, took her earnings, and tried to keep her from boys. When she went on strike and refused to act, demanding independence, her mom locked her up as insane! Over the years, she stoked a reckless, burning rage in Frances... but they solved that. They lobotomized her! Imprisoned, chained, raped.
Years later, let out, she testifies against the system on TV, but her old fire's burnt out. She says "the only thing sustaining me is faith in God." Ironic and touching, since, as a girl, she won a school contest with a controversial essay: "Why I don't believe in God." And then went out to prove God didn't see at least one sparrow that fell.
Or is this just the movie version? I did see a TV interview with the real Frances Farmer. She seemed wholer than Jessica Lange's version of her, brilliant though it is. I get the sense her wild acting-out was daring them to stop her rage against her mom, a rage she couldn't bear. She dared them to do it, and they did. And now, in a way, at a price, she's at peace.
Of course, peace isn't everything.
A FEW NIGHTS LATER
I'm being stalked by assassins: lizard people, fast as skinks. They pack modern guns, and I have only a bronze sword. Still, they fear me--we're trapped in a maze, and at close quarters, I'm pretty terrifying. I'm the Hulk, after all, and when I psych myself up into battle fever, I'm invulnerable to any weapon I notice. I do have to notice, so a mob of skinks can get some shots under my hide. But the terrain favors me. No room for big battles! Just alley ambushes. Ack! Whack! Over.
Two skinks jump me in a hall. I fight savagely, enjoying it... and kill them both. I'm calming myself out of battle fever when a third enemy, this one human, comes round a corner, and after a brief fight, he's down stunned and bleeding on the floor. I used to know this guy, a former acquaintance turned traitor. Still, I can't just let him die when he's helpless. I kneel and look at his head. The top of his skull's been sliced off like an egg, baring a patch of brain. A small chunk of shrapnel drilled into the center of his brain, below the rational areas--where emotions are coordinated. So hot it glows red. It's cooking him from within!
It'll surely kill him unless I pull it out. Brain tissue itself feels no pain, so he lies still when I say... but if I pull it forth, the burning thing will touch the lips of his wound, and the outer meninges and scalp WILL feel the fire. And if he thrashes around he'll surely die. I could pour cool water on the glowing ember till it cools enough to be removed, But this too might make him move.
To make matters worse, he's convinced he's doomed. Without hope, he won't try to restrain himself seriously.
Yet I know in my hulking bones that despite the frightful wound he can live--and heal fully. If he'll just try. By letting me try.
I'm a lot like Frances Farmer--full of rage, burning from the inside with it. I've been resenting successful, attractive people, people not tormented and outcast as kids.
Burning ember in my brain!
And I can't go on like this. It has to be removed. That's going to hurt. The crucial thing is not to act out, lash out in my pain. A hard trick to pull off when in pain.
But I'd better. Frances couldn't do it--and they lobotomized her for it.
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