Friday, January 20, 2006

Tartarus

There was this very distinctive, recurring dream in childhood (probably from watching all those replays of that classic Charlton Heston flick, The Omega Man, on tv). There was a nuclear war that wiped out a big chunk of the human population and laid many places to waste. Most of those who survived became zombie-like beings who craved for the brains of those who were not affected by the radiation. We were among those who remained regular homo sapiens. And we lived underground. Under our house, that we abandoned due to the threats posed by the brain-suckers, we constructed this very big and complex headquarters complete with all the high tech gadgets and amenities that allowed us to go on with quite a comfortable albeit dangerous existence. We had this great van with powerful computers and all kinds of weapons on-board. And from our secret underground complex, we would emerge into the zombie world riding our van. We’d be searching for other people who managed to avoid contracting the dreaded brain-craving disorder. Brainless zombies would be throwing themselves at our vehicle, hoping to slow down our regular patrols and get a shot at sucking our brains out.

It was hell on earth. And our HQ in the dream was a Tartarus of sorts, a place found way down below Hades. Read about this place first in Stephen Baxter’s Titan which tells of a human expedition to the Saturnian world. Thinking of a call-sign for their base on Saturn’s methane-covered moon, the few remaining astronauts decided on Tartarus. In Greek mythology, before Zeus’ and the other gods’ time came, there were the giant Titans, children of Uranus and Gaia, sky and the Earth. There was Cronus, the leader, Rhea, Tethys, Iapetus, Hyperion, Phoebe, Oceanus, Coeus, Crius, Mnemosyne. Their stronghold was Mount Othyrs, the counterpart of Mount Olympus. Cronus overthrew his father, Uranus. But soon after that, this ten-year battle between the Titans and the gods, led by restless Zeus, erupted. Zeus enlisted the help of the Hecatoncheires, the terrifying hundred-armed giants. All of the dreadful Titans were defeated and imprisoned in Tartarus. The Hecatoncheires were appointed prison guards.

Finished constructing my floor-to-ceiling bookshelf a few days before the start of the new year. Spent a little over 2,500 pesos, which included the price of the varnish. The shelf has seven levels (eight if you include the space above the topmost board). Arranged neatly within its numerous compartments, my six boxful of books don’t look too many. In fact, I still have some compartments left for vases and indoor plants (and for my future audio and video system). Staring at the whole thing from where I lay at night, on the floor, I imagine seeing the massive, threatening walls of Tartarus. Plan to construct another shelf-cum-work station along the other walls in my room as soon as I have enough funds to buy more construction materials. I’ll then be literally surrounded by words contained in books. With an internet connection for my computer, a stereo and a tv set (and maybe a dvd player), guess I wouldn’t mind staying in this “prison” even for a thousand years (if I get to live that long). Could fill up megabytes of disk space with my notes and journals. Maybe I could even put in a few novels and children’s stories.

So I’ve named my partly renovated room, my HQ, Tartarus. My muse said it doesn’t sound that good. True, it’s not very lyrical (it used to be the "Batcave", until I realized I’m not particularly fond of bats or caves). But I still like the idea of a comforting prison as I did then, when I was still young, dreaming of those isolated strongholds underground that protected me from cruel, scary people outside. Must be some kind of womb-fixation, as an ex-partner used to say disdainfully. I’d like to think now it’s a lot better than being in either heaven or hell.

1 comment:

silayan said...

randz, nakaka-inspire! kami din umaapaw ng mga libro namin at kelangan ng more bookshelves. di dapat pala kami matakot na mag-reach for heights!

labs, aimee