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↑ Vantage pt for Jay Levine at tippity top of crow's nest before he jumped.

Das Boot: the first and perhaps most profound of the Dreamscape categories in that it describes not only the day-to-day adventures of a Caribbean escape, but also a moment that was much of a fulcrum or a rubicon for everyone involved, both a gathering and a dispersal. They were all twenty-four or twenty-five years old, an age where everything in the past seems like prologue and the next turned page is where the story really begins. There was a lot of debate about what comes next: plans hatched, destinies reconsidered. And soon after: Sebastian heading for Brazil, Christoph to Argentina, Helene to New Zealand, our pal Jayson and Natalie both to New York City. And the more we studied these pages, the stronger the urge became to apply allegory and deeper significance to everything that was written. And although 'reality' strongly resists such neat and tidy structuring, nonetheless here it is.

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Das Boot i (11/33)

December 11, 1990

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Snorkeling occupied the better part of the morning. Contact lenses and diving mask, snorkel, fins. An array of fish. And then… upon returning to the boat… there, in the shadow of the immense hull, a swarm of small fish gathered around… emerging from the gloom and sun rays and floating particles like dust-mites on a sunbeam… King Fish! Surrounded by his court of lessers, smaller, servants. Flat and huge and adorned by a sharply contrasting design of straight stripes, breathing slowly in the midst of his entourage… I cautiously approached. What a fish?! Like Caesar on his throne:

My boxer shorts!! All dried and light and airy from the night before and ready, now, to be blown overboard by the slightest breeze, which is, in fact, what had happened. So I rescued them, towed them back to the deck. Rewrung and hung them on the line to dry in the heavy air which threatened (and delivered) rain throughout the day. My shoes are out there now, soaking more of the water which drums and rattles on the plastic hatch above the table where I scribble, again, amidst the wavering shadows thrown by 2(!) kerosine lamps.

Read more Naipaul today. Of course, like all great writers, the man is genius.

And otherwise… what? Not much. Went with Dexter late in the evening to fish below the face of the stark cliff which rises 100 yards from our boat. The FEAR! Of the dinghy outboard not starting, of floating toward the sea, paddling furiously, uselessly… gone…

And later, again, THE FEAR. After refilling the stove canister w/what I hoped (and deep down knew (?)) to be kerosine, I washed my hands in the bathroom, listening to Dexter pump up the pressure, and imagined if what Sebastian had warned against was, in fact, fact. Had I filled the canister with gasoline instead of kerosine? Would the ship, as Sebastian so aptly suggested, “blow sky high” when I tried to start the flame? But no way! I had smelled it and even compared the smell to certain vessels I knew definitively held kerosine. It must be correct. But still… I imagined the explosion. Would there be a warning? I saw myself thrown back, alive but in this scenario, unaccountably, sightless. “My eyes!” I scream. Then, as the realization hits: “Not my eyes!” Would i see again? Would they rush me… where? And me without health insurance! Should I accept my lot, or fight for the best doctors and that slim hope of… all this while looking at a vague and lantern-illuminated face in the warped and weary bathroom mirror. Was it my last visual view of myself? As I walked back toward the ominous stove and the sound of Dexter’s frantic pumping, I imagined asking the nurse who cares for my sick and sightless body: “How do I look? Do I look okay?” And she would answer. “You look beautiful. Now hush and go to sleep.” Partly because she knows her job and partially because in this particular cinematic fantasy, scarred and disfigured, I still am. 

So I lit the stove and it worked fine.


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