I walked to the park this morning for a workout, and this came to mind.
I leave the world of Anthropos (ἄνθρωπος) and enter another world, one that is orthogonal to our own. I am somewhere on the plains at the edge of a battlefield. I feel my heart in my chest, pounding a steady rhythm.
I see a man with a ram horned helmet in the distance. He is overlooking a battlefield. In front of him, several hundred men charge into a fog-shrouded battlefield. In his right hand he his holding a horn.
I cry out to him, \”Ares! Is that you?\”
\”You! Astatos (άστατος)! Coward! Go and join the fight! Look at the fighters out there in the distance. They are great! They will be rewarded. Their spirits grow. They will be mighty. But you will wither. Your flesh will heap and sag from disuse. If you do not abandon your comfort, then you will remain in the dark, banned from the light. You will be a rat, scampering between the legs of the victor.\”
\”But I am unsure of how to contribute to justice on the battlefield,\” I say.
Ares scans the horizon, surveying the plain and says, \”Do you see her? I did not see her here on the plain.\” He gives a mocking laugh.
A familiar voice, in silence, tells my heart old words: There is no justice on the battlefield—only power.
I leave the edge of the battlefield. I see a tower in the distance and I walk toward it. When I arrive, a guard tells me to place my soul on a set of scales. My soul is measured against a golden heart. The scale shifts and wobbles. It does not become steady. At the sight of this the guards summon an old man dressed in fine clothes; he then inspects my soul. He shakes his head, as if in disappointed and inconvenienced. He whispers in a guard\’s ear and steps inside. Two more guards appear from a small guard shack adjacent to the tower and step behind me, preventing me from leaving.
The finely dressed old man returns, beckoning me without a word. We climb a marble spiraling staircase in the center of the tower. He guides me to a door at the highest point of the tower, which I enter by myself. We are standing on an open turret overlooking a vast field. In the distance, I see the fog-and-battle where Ares is commanding troops.
\”Welcome Astatos (άστατος),\” Apollo says.
\”Why am I here? Why did you wish to speak with me?\” I ask.
\”You are here because I summoned you, and you knew that already. You will do well not to ask why things are. There is no reason here; we are not beholden to the ways of Anthropos. Now, Astatos (άστατος), you spoke with The Ram, Ares. What did he say to you?\”
\”He called me a coward. He said I will grow weak if I do not enter the battlefield. And he said that Justice was not on the battlefield,\” I say.
Apollo looks at me with contempt, \”Justice is in The Mountain. Where else could she be?\”
\”I am sorry Apollo. I am from Anthropos. This land is alien to me. I am a stranger here,\” I say.
\”Yes, that is why your insolence have been spared. Now, hear me. Ares is a blind fool——a ram gorged on blood-soaked grass. When you were on the battlefield, did you hear the drum?\”
\”No, I only heard the beating of my own heart.\” I say.
\”Your heart is in Anthropos. What you felt on the battlefield was Ares\’ drum. It is the calling of the drum that brought you here, Changing-One. It called you to the battlefield. But you saw Ares before he blew his horn, and thus you were spared the battle.\”
\”Yes, I was spared the battle, but I am a coward, and I will be weak,\” I say.
Apollo holds up a single finger and motions me to silence. He readies his bow and fires several arrows toward the battlefield where Ares is waging a war.
And a chorus sings:
Apollo\’s arrow pierces one
Ares\’ sword cleaves two.
\”You killed men on both sides!\” I shout, the words having left my mouth in careless shock.
\”Astatos, you know nothing of the gods. Ares had cleaved the mass in two so that they may battle. And I have made the battle more perfect. We do this——lest Ares and I return to our feud.
\”Now, be gone, mortal. Before your ignorance of the ways of the gods incurs more anger,\” Apollo says. And I suddenly I am whisked away in a whirldwind.
As I return to the world of the living, Hermes, in secret, snatches me up. He speaks quickly, \”Hey, man, real quick, you didn\’t see me. Keep the \’energy\’. Don\’t give it to those two bastards okay. I\’m not saying that it\’s rightfully yours, but it isn\’t necessarily theirs. Okay? Now get the fuck out of here.\”
And I find myself in a park south of Seattle, and the sky is grey. A woman who reminds me of an older version of a college friend is jogging around the park passing me for the third time. I tap my left headphone with my finger, and a narrator resumes reading a book by Murakami.