Sauron’s Eye and Spiral Starecase


Being from a place six hours ahead, mornings here in Greece are always a chaotic heap of befuddlement (but then again, which morning isn’t?). They are where the potent engines of jet lag propel one into the throes of absolute mental clarity, though without the physical fitness required to support that due to having not clocked in enough quantity of quality sleep. It’s a weird kind of groggy: uncentered, thoughts racing at 100 mph, still with the final inches of the remnants of last night’s nightmares. It feels almost like a high.

Then, one has to go down seven flights of stairs in this literal “downward spiral” towards a red end, the Eye of Sauron. One does not simply walk into Mordor… But this is a debating tournament so it might as well be one (Mordor). Half-running, descending these stairs renders one into a mental whirlwind, what was uncentered becoming even more de-centered and shaken like a martini, ready to swim with Kalamata olives served at the arrival point’s breakfast spread. Hopefully this one Bond likes… And sips, and nips.

In the 60s, there was a psychedelic rock band called the Spiral Starecase. What a strange name, I thought. It is only today the idiosyncratic name begin to make sense. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Speed-walking down this spiral thing while staring at your destination, but at nothing at all at the same time due to the massive disorientation it introduces, epitomizes fully the idea of psychedelia. Now that I get it, what an awesome pun, I thought.

One does not simply walk into Mordor. One walks into psychedelia. And relishes in it, dreaming of being martini while dancing with olives. In that case, have I eaten the olives, or have they been eating me? Even multiple shots of acidic, sachet-quality espresso cannot shake this looming dualism. It is still very dark out there; befuddlement and clarity stands hand in hand, playing in earnest, like kindergarten best friends. I guess Florence + the Machine is right, “it’s always darkest before the dawn.”


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