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The Book of Ravana

The Book of Ravana
By Jahnavi Misra

Part I

The sky threw down a florescent light and the trees turned neon green as Indu climbed higher. It was not a simple beauty, pleasing to the eyes. It tormented her, threatening to peel, bit by bit, the exterior shell that she had held on to all her life, making her feel raw and exposed. 

For a map, she carried a piece of paper with jumbled markings that made very little sense. “Just follow this path and you should get there soon,” she had been told. 

Her knees gave way when she finally saw the temple. It looked like it had been forgotten centuries ago but was still alive with fresh vermillion marks of worship dotting its stone walls. This was where she might finally find the book – the Ravana Shastram

An old hermit with a flowing beard, wearing nothing but a scarlet sarong, stood at a little distance, feeding monkeys.

“I am from India,” Indu told him. “A stoner at the Ella caves said that you can teach me all about Ravana.” 

Indu wondered whether he understood Tamil, as the hermit took her inside the temple silently. 

He started to brew tea leaves on a small stove. “How much sugar?” 

“Not too much,” Indu replied, sitting on the floor, relieved.

It was a small dark room with oil lamps burning under a large, primitive deity – Ravana. The idol had the usual ten heads, but was otherwise completely unadorned. Sitting in the posture of a yogi, it was a far cry from the bejewelled, ruthless king with a villainous laugh that easy-to-digest legends depicted.

The hermit offered Indu tea and said in a quiet voice, “I have not had visitors in a long time. Only the villagers come to give rations.” 

Then he pulled out a bundle wrapped in yellow silk from a shelf behind the idol, and spread on the floor old, crumbling leaves with ancient markings on them. “Take a look whenever you like, but do not take them outside.” 

Indu’s eyes grew wide with delight. “How do you know that I came for this?”

“Why else would anyone trek all this way?” 

“Is it true that it was transcribed by him in another realm, after his death on earth?” 

The hermit was silent. 

“Ravana is my ancestor from my mother’s side," Indu said, in a matter-of-fact tone that made it hard to determine whether she was joking or being serious. “My family faced a lot of prejudice because of him. I grew up watching his effigy being burnt to the ground as a symbol of evil every Dussehra festival.” 

The hermit nodded; he had no reason to disbelieve her claim to Ravana’s lineage.

“My mother tried to stop me, but I need to know more about him. I came to Sri Lanka because he ruled this land.” 

Through his silence, the hermit hoped to convey his lack of interest in the particulars of Indu’s physical and emotional journey to the temple.

“I was told at the Ella caves that you have the shastram.”

“You can stay as long as you like.”

Indu gratefully retreated to a corner of the temple, relieving her backpack of the books that were threatening its seams. They covered astrology, tantra-mantra and yoga – all which she hoped would help her decipher the text she had been seeking for so long. 

* * *

'Steam rises from every surface as the sun scorches the land. A big tree is decorated with red and yellow paste. The sounds of cymbals, conches and drums resound. From behind the trunk of the tree emerge the frightened but defiant eyes of a young boy who is yet to become Ravana. 

The boy watches as a huge pyre burns, with flames leaping up to the sky. Seven priests sit around it, chanting mantra — blowing life and meaning into the fire. There is an anointed spotted deer tied to a stump; its body looks like mottled gold in the sun. It is ignored in these early stages, but soon, the boy knows, it will be the center of attention. It will be cut up ceremoniously to ensure the continuance of these people. The boy sees fear in the deer’s eyes, but the defiance that lights up his own is absent there. 

The mantra resounds in the boy’s ears as the foreign king and his coterie make an entrance. He knows that the proper enunciation of every word, the precise performance of every aspect of the ceremony is essential. That is what bestows permanence and order to what is otherwise ephemeral. And that is what needs to be disrupted, the continuing power of these foreigners who might take over his father’s lands. He loosens, with trembling fingers, the noose around the deer’s neck. 

When the boy comes to, he is on the ground slouching against the tree. The deafening sounds continue. The deer still stands in its place. 

Men and women of the boy’s tribe are gathered in a clearing within the forest. The women have thick hair tied in intricate braids and the men have big, bushy moustaches. They are the people of the forest. 

“What were you doing there, Iraivan?” the boy’s father, the great sage and leader of the people, Vishrava, demands. “You must stay away from the foreigners.” 

“Father, what if they try to take our lands?” Iraivan asks. “I will kill them.” 

“You are too young to worry about these things. Pay attention to your lessons.” 

Iraivan returns to the site of the ceremony the next day and finds a pool of dried blood in the middle of a complicated pattern drawn with flour. He imagines the foreign king lifting his shining, consecrated sword and bringing it down on the sad-eyed deer. Is this the end of his family’s prominence? He is filled with dread.'

* * *

After a simple dinner of rice and coconut dahl, the hermit picked up his bedding to leave the temple. He was used to sleeping in the open, listening to animal sounds.

“Aren’t you afraid of snakes?” Indu asked.

“The animals in this area know me well,” the hermit replied. “You should go to sleep too,” he said, offering Indu a mat. 

Indu accepted the mat, but ignored the hermit’s advice and went back to reading in the light of the oil lamps. 

* * *

‘The wet, soupy air in that part of the forest is known to clog noses. No one likes to go there, but Vishrava’s seven boys have no choice. With their bodies painted in black stipes to match their tiger skin loincloths, they hunt close to a deafening waterfall – it is where the animals gather. They are sprayed relentlessly as they hide behind large green leaves. Their bows are taut and their poisoned arrows ready to fly. 

Iraivan is the first one to let go. 

“I hit it!” Iraivan says, and runs after his arrow.

“You are cheating again!” screams one of the brothers when he sees Iraivan dragging a wild boar from behind a tree. 

“You obviously got one of the guards to kill it for you at dawn,” the eldest brother, Kubera, shouts. Iraivan’s other brother, Vibhishana, nods in agreement.

“You can examine the arrow — it is mine!” Iraivan protests. 

The boar is taken to Vishrava. It is definitely not a fresh kill. “Iraivan, victory is not as important as fairness.”

“But father, I must win,” Iraivan whispers. He can never lie in his father’s presence.

“Take the boar to be butchered,” Vishrava tells Kubera. To Iraivan he says, “You will go to each family, hand them the boar meat and apologize for cheating.” 

Iraivan falls to the ground, holding his stomach as Vishrava leaves. “I must win . . . I must win,” he repeats, swinging back and forth. 

His brothers feel the punishment should have been harsher, but they have no say in the matter. All they can do is snigger. They remind Iraivan of cackling cats with their striped bodies. He picks up a stone and flings it at one of them. There is blood and a loud scream.’

* * * 

Eight-year-old Indu pretended to be busy as the bullies chanted, “Ravana’s daughter! Ravana’s daughter!” One of the boys snatched her notebook; it had a drawing of the ten-headed demon. The ten heads had ten lush moustaches and twenty red horns ripping through ten golden crowns. The notebook passed from one laughing student to the other. 

“Ravana’s daughter!” someone shouted again.

“Ravana was a mighty king! You’re all worthless shits from insignificant families!” Indu burst out, crying loudly.

* * *

“Would you like some water?” the hermit asked Indu, wiping her brow with a damp cloth. She had passed out sometime during the night with the leaves of the book still in her lap. 

* * *

‘All seven brothers, older now, stand before their father with their heads bowed and their hands joined in respect. 

“It is time for you to go into tapasya,” Vishrava says. “Strict, meditative discipline and denial of appetite is the only way to control body and mind. It will be difficult; but there are innumerable gods waiting to bless you with their ethereal presence and more, if you succeed.” 

The brothers are dreading the tapasya. They will be exiled to the forest for years, and will not only have to survive, but also learn to conquer their minds – the hardest feat of all. 

Iraivan is not scared. He will show that he is better than his brothers. He wanders far and wide, discovering insects and plants that he has never seen before. He uses fire to keep animals at bay, and meets many a wise yogi on his way. He chooses Shiva, the rebel, the outsider, as his object of devotion.’

* * *

Indu had started to look increasingly unkempt after some time with the Ravana Shastram. It took her a long time to decode it, but as she began to understand, it drew her in in such a way that the motions of her own life, the movements of days and nights, the difference between inside and outside, became irrelevant. All meaning concentrated on the symbols in the book, and she embraced the pain of her younger days as simply a means to that end. 

* * *

‘Iraivan’s tapasya is long and extreme. He sits atop a rock day and night with his eyes closed, without food and without sleep. Eventually his internal gaze is so keen that there is no need to observe the external world. Externality is merely a simplified version of what is internal. Mountains, rivers, animals, plants – everything can be found inside, throbbing with life-energy. All things inside the mind have multiple dimensions, and they breathe together as one. 

Iraivan sits thus, in joyous harmony with the world of his mind when, finally, one night he hears someone call out. 

“Open your eyes, my child. Your tapasya is complete.”

Iraivan peers into the dark blue and green of the forest night. The sky and the trees flow into one another. An outline of a figure emerges as his sight adjusts. A maha-yogi seated in meditation. A shadowy torso, bare, except for the prayer beads. Streams of hair falling down to the waist. The only action in the utterly still body of the maha-yogi is that of a snake slithering up his chest, curling protectively around his neck and looking up with a hiss. Shiva opens his large, moon like eyes. 

 “I see you! I see you!” Iraivan screams, pulling at his matted hair. 

“He will try to decapitate you ten times but your laughter will resonate from horizon to horizon. That is my blessing to you,” Shiva utters without moving his mouth.

Iraivan rubs his eyes, trying to decipher the meaning of Shiva’s words. 

When he looks back up, he is alone again. But Shiva had come.

As his euphoria settles, he feels a murderous hunger tearing at his stomach. He has been in tapasya for so long that he does not remember when he last ate. He pounces on an insect that has been his neighbor throughout, and puts it in his mouth.’

Part II

Indu wrenched herself from a delirious sleep. She jerked to get up but the hermit stopped her. “You aren’t well, child. You must rest.”

When she awoke, the chirping of birds had filled the sky. She went out looking for the hermit immediately. 

“You have been sleeping for twenty-four hours,” the hermit said, gathering aromatic herbs. “You must feel refreshed.”

“Much better.” Indu hadn’t spoken in so long that her own words sounded strange to her.

“Come,” the hermit said. “I will cook you a feast today. A villager brought me fresh fish this morning. Consider it a reward for your hard work.” 

* * *

‘Kubera, of all the brothers, receives the most dazzling gifts, straight from Bramha. Not only does he get the land across the water, the kingdom of Lanka, but also a beautiful flying chariot.

“What did I get?” Iraivan asks himself. “A few abstruse words.”

Their father, Vishrava, is proud. “I am glad that you are my eldest,” he says to Kubera.

The brothers too fawn over him. They don’t even ask Iraivan twice about Shiva’s blessing; nobody really understands what it means. 

Iraivan makes up his mind as Kubera describes Lanka to the others. “Precious stones line the streets there. Men and women cover themselves with gold. Away from this forest, I will be living in an opulent palace, and will be waited on day and night by beautiful maidens.” Iraivan decides that he has no option but to snatch his brother’s gifts from him—not only Lanka, but also the flying chariot.

The family is dismayed to learn that Iraivan has all this time been recruiting young men of the tribe to create a personal army.

“I did it only to make sure that we have enough men to fight the foreigners,” Iraivan tries to justify to Vishrava.  

Vishrava’s official army fights on Kubera’s behalf, but Iraivan’s men are younger. He gets what he wants; and is even more dissatisfied than he has ever been before.

It is not a surprise when his brothers distance themselves from him, but his father truly hurts him. Vishrava disowns Iraivan, vowing never to see his face again.’

* * *

Indu began taking longer breaks between readings now, even accompanying the hermit on his monkey-feeding rituals sometimes. A little one climbed onto her shoulder once and pulled at her unruly hair so hard that the hermit had to pry it away.

These breaks were important. Not because Indu was tired but because having despised Ravana with an obsessive passion, she was struggling with the new understanding she was gaining about that flawed character. Indu had come to believe that Ravana frantically garnered hatred to satisfy some unfathomable frustration, and his need for eternal triumph made him more vulnerable than invincible. 

* * *

‘No matter how many times Iraivan bathes in the waters of his kingdom’s lakes, and no matter how many gems he hangs from his ears and drapes around his neck, he cannot be cleansed of his family’s scorn. Their contempt isolates him; trapping him in his palace of rich colors and sumptuous fabrics. His subjects are contented but they do not love him. His servants can give their lives for him out of duty, but not out of love. 

Only the thought of Shiva warms his heart. 

Sleep evades Iraivan tonight, as it has on many nights. Leaving his bed, he steps out of the palace and sits under a tree. He closes his eyes to the starry sky as tears stream down his face. “Shiva,” he cries. “Come to me again.”

He sits thus for many days and nights – his servants not daring to disturb him – until Shiva is compelled to guide his mind to his abode on a snowy Himalayan mountain.

“What is it that you seek?”

“Come to Lanka with me,” Iraivan demands.

“This is my home,” Shiva replies.

“If you do not come with me, I will take the entire mountain to Lanka.” 

His extreme tapasya has given Iraivan powers beyond any other human being; he grasps the mountain with gigantic, phantom hands. 

Shiva views Iraivan’s huge, bejewelled fingers with amusement. But as the ground begins to shake, he decides to rein in the boy’s arrogance. He lifts a foot and stomps on the mountain, pushing it back in place.

“Aaaaaaaaarrrrrrrghhhhhhh!!!!” Iraivan roars in pain, as one of his fingers breaks.

Shiva smiles. “My child, from now on, you will forever be called ‘Ravana’ – the one who roars.”

Ravana is humiliated, but he is not one to slink away in shame. In a gesture of profound arrogance and deep humility, he tears open the skin of his phantom arm, pulls out the veins and strums on them the song of Shiva.

Ravana regales Shiva with the hot pain in his arm and the rippling warmth of his melody. He finds some relief in expressing in this way the agony in the centre of his being. It is a hunk of ice, not unlike Shiva’s snowy mountain itself, slowly but relentlessly burning a hole in his heart.’

* * *

Indu averted her eyes from the text, and said to the hermit, “Is it okay if I sleep in the forest tonight? I want to listen to the animals too.” 

She might have found the symphony of animal sounds intriguing or even relaxing at another time, but tonight she found it grating and ominous. She was dreading what was coming—the critical act that had become synonymous with Ravana.

* * *

‘Reports from the land across the water confirm that the foreigner Rama is in exile with his beautiful wife Sita. 

The news reminds Ravana of his old dislike of the foreigners. How helpless he was against them as a child. He hasn’t met Sita, but can’t get her out of his mind. His restless mind has found a new fixation. 

Resplendent on his throne but with desperation on his face, he asks a dreadlocked yogi sitting next to him, “Why do I yearn for Rama’s Sita, when I know that she will bring death upon me?” 

“Because deep-down you also know that she is the only way to life and redemption for you,” says the yogi with his eyes closed. 

Ravana ignores the yogi and utters with determination, “I learnt as a little boy, whatever I desire is already waiting for me.” 

“You will take her against her will?” the yogi asks. “That is the greatest sin that a man can commit.”

“I will have Sita. I have been waiting to show those foreigners for a long time,” Ravana roars.

Across the water in a forest clearing, Sita watches a golden deer bound away. 

Soon after, a wandering mendicant takes advantage of her kindness and captures her as she approaches with food. Holding her in his arms, he takes his flying chariot swiftly to the air. High in the sky, Ravana reveals himself.

A flapping of wings, a defensive shadow that reassures Sita briefly. It is Jatayu, Rama’s soldier-bird. Ravana pierces Jatayu’s heart with his sword. Sita watches in dismay as the magnificent bird disappears behind the clouds. Then she turns and looks at Ravana, her eyes large with anger.’

* * *

Indu felt the inevitability of that moment between Sita and Ravana like a jolt.

* * *

‘In an instant, in Sita’s angry eyes, Ravana sees everything. In a flash he knows the reason for it all. It might have been kinder for him to have not known until the very end, but this is Sita’s revenge. 

He is confused. Nothing is what it seems. Even Shiva betrayed him. 

The knowledge does not alleviate Ravana’s desire for Sita, but as he crosses the water in his flying chariot, he is forced to reckon with his pain. The deception was deep but necessary. 

Ravana utters his bitter, thunderous laugh for the first time. 

Rama rallies his forces to reclaim his wife. A bridge is erected between the two lands, and hordes of men and monkeys flood into Lanka.

Destructive Shiva thrashes the air as he dances on the battlefield. Whirling Shiva. Whirling dust. Wailing, screaming, bloody-thirsty bodies of men, monkeys and demons. 

Ravana has the cruel gift of vision now; but there is more immediate pain for those living purely in the present. There is nothing for him to do but laugh. The maniacal Ravana-laughter echoes amidst the terrible shrieks of the dying. 

Anxious Rama strings three arrows to his bow as a drop of sweat falls into his eye. Ravana waits patiently. Letting go of the arrows, he beheads Ravana and relaxes his body in relief.

When he looks up, Ravana is standing before him intact. Still laughing.’

Part III

“There has to be more,” Indu said. She had started to look like a female version of the hermit. 

 “You need to go to India for the rest,” the hermit replied.

“Why?” Indu asked. “I am an outsider in India; Ravana is an outsider there.”

“You need to go to a temple in a town called Kanpur. It won’t be easy to get them to bring the book out for you; it has remained a secret for generations.” 

“How do you know all this?” 

“Go now. It is Dussehra in a few days; this is the right time.” 

* * *

The throng at the Kanpur railway station startled Indu. Standing in a corner, she observed the dusty crowd for a while.

 “Taxi?” a sleazy, old man asked. 

 Indu told him the temple’s address in Hindi.

She left her backpack in a small hotel and braced herself with some too-sweet roadside tea, watching people going in and out of the brightly painted shrine. She appreciated the uniqueness of that Ravana-worshipping temple, standing in defiance of the rest of the town, but its many headed, pink idol disgusted her. “This is not what he looked like,” she said to herself. 

Indu contemplated talking to the priest, but was intimidated by his condescending manner. “The Shastram will find me,” she chanted like a mantra. 

In the grounds close to the temple, festive red, yellow, blue, green canopies became busier as evening descended. Everything from samosa to cotton candy was being sold. A huge ten-headed Ravana effigy stood ready to be burnt to the ground, symbolizing the victory of Rama over Ravana: the victory of good over evil. 

Next to the effigy was a large stage showing a raamleela. They were performed only during the days leading up to Dussehra; Indu had seen a few of them growing up in Delhi. She remembered being filled with an all-encompassing hatred towards everyone, including herself, while watching the actors play out the war between Rama and Ravana. 

But tonight, as her generalized hatred was triggered and she reflected on the garish makeup, cardboard jewelry and cheap, glittering clothes, she felt Ravana’s miserable arrogance stirring within. And even as she watched the actors muddling up their lines, she found her contempt transforming. She did not feel hate for Ravana anymore, she did not even hate the ridiculous man playing Ravana; what she felt suddenly was a sad kinship. She smiled as tears clouded her vision. 

Through those tears she spotted an old man begging in a corner of the grounds. People were only just managing not to trample on him; it was as if he were invisible. An idea struck Indu. She approached an open gutter and sat in it — gingerly at first, then with more determination. She took some filth in her hands and rubbed it on her arms, her hair, and then all over her face.

Looking like a beggar, she was sure to go unnoticed at the temple—which was overflowing with the noise of ceiling bells, drums, and piercing calls of the conch. Indu closed her eyes; she needed to do this.

Behind the pink deity, within the sanctum, was a door that led to a vault. The priest’s male assistants emerged and disappeared from that door constantly. 

Indu sat on the mucky floor and gradually slid towards the sanctum, moving like a rat between people’s legs. It was easy to sneak down the stairs once the pressure on the priest reached boiling point. The overworked helpers in the dimly lit vault mistook her for one of their own, not even noticing her gender, so dirty she was.

As one batch of helpers ascended and before the next batch descended she found a quick moment to hide behind a trunk covered with an old sheet. And as she sat crouching among the cockroaches, the Ravanas all over town began to explode amidst cheers. Each effigy had been stuffed with enough fireworks to jolt the radius of a few kilometers. It was as if the town had been sitting on a tinderbox. The biggest, gaudiest head finally fell from between leaping flames and Indu dozed from exhaustion. 

When she awoke, she was glad that someone had neglected to switch off the one bulb dangling from the ceiling. Offerings of fruits covered the floor, some of which she stole. 

The trunk was useful in that it helped Indu push open a high ventilating window, but within it were only old books and old clothes.

Indu searched for two days with nothing to eat but some wilting fruit and nothing to drink but a small bottle of water that she had hidden under her shirt. 

And then, just as she was about to give up, she was overcome by an urge to examine a dusty Shiva statue that appeared to have been abandoned in the vault for decades. 

She tried to lift it but could only shift it a little, revealing a corner of a yellow, silk cloth underneath. She pushed the statue several times with all her might till it fell to the ground. Indu’s hands trembled as she held the bundle that looked exactly like the one that the hermit had opened. Inside were the leaves of the Shastram

* * *

‘Ravana-laughter resounds amidst thirst, aridity and death. Rama looks down in utter despair as another Ravana head rolls to the ground only to be replaced by a different one on that unyielding body of his adversary. “He is immortal,” Rama says to himself, feeling more despair than is allowed to a hero.

Finally, Vibhishana, one of Ravana’s brothers, whispers something in Rama’s ear. Ravana wonders what took Vibhishana so long. It is time. 

Rama’s arrow flies straight, swift and pierces Ravana’s navel, the only point on his body that holds his mortality. Ravana falls to the ground and the dust rises, erupting around him like flames.  

The battlefield is deserted now. Ravana lies dying slowly in Rama’s arms. Both know that this is how it had to happen. 

“Oh, foreigner, you were waiting for me even as I was waiting for you,” Ravana says. 

 “It was the only way, but I regret having snatched from the world one of its greatest leaders,” Rama says. “Teach me, great king. Teach me how to serve my own realm the way you have served yours.” 

Ravana does not hesitate. He divulges to the eager Rama all his most effective techniques of statecraft – someone has to maintain order in the world when he is gone. One listens eagerly as the other expounds. The two are enemies like life and death are enemies. One has to redeem the other for the sun to keep rising, for the planets to keep turning.

* * *

It is not the battlefield any more. Grey ocean, crashing waves. Rama is the original Vishnu, all-knowing and compassionate. A single round stone adorns his airy, golden crown. And in his arms is not Ravana but his own loyal personnel, Jaya, from times other than this one. Vishnu has saved Jaya in death. It was the only way to free him from the cycle of karma.

“Oh Vishnu, I have been cursed to be born as a mortal being. But I want to be born as your sworn enemy, so that you can free me by killing me!” Jaya had beseeched. Vishnu has now fulfilled that promise.

Ravana’s gnawing desires, his biting jealousies, all that agony melts into the raging ocean. Only a deep sympathy remains. A sympathy for the pain that each has endured, from the fish in the water to Vishnu himself, whose tears make the ocean swell. 

A whale breaches and Shiva opens his large, moon like eyes.

* * *

Your tapasya is complete. The blessing of Shiva is now yours, as it was once mine,’ the Shastram reads directly to Indu. ‘It is the boon of immortality. Not a promise of unending life for your current, physical form, but an expansion of understanding that reveals to you that nothing is separate. Even opposites are forever entwined. Good and evil, life and death, us and them; the world will go on as long as they balance each other out. Not a victory of one over the other but their cosmic dance, that is life.’ 

 * * *

Indu looked up from the text, her eyes full and large. She felt weightless. The layers that had started to peel when she began her journey had now shed completely. And the dust particles that shimmered under the ceiling light covered her. She was made of those particles. The gentlest breeze could scatter them and she would be no more, or she would be everywhere. “Nothing is separate,” she repeated to herself, her heart bursting with pleasure. She felt an overwhelming urge to embrace the first person she found on the streets, even though she had hated to even talk to the people of that town before. 

She watched the dancing dust as a giggle tickled her chest. Involuntary laughter escaped her throat and resounded in the vault before she collapsed. 

The sun had risen when Indu awoke. She climbed out of the ventilating window, leaving the Shastram leaves lying scattered on the floor. At the hotel, she washed herself after a long time that day.  

* * *

Jahnavi Misra is a writer, researcher and animator living in London. She has a PhD in English literature from Durham University, UK. Her book of short stories, The Punished, based on the death penalty in India, was published by Harper Collins in January, 2021; her book chapter, ‘Heterogeneous Belonging’, based on her research work, is forthcoming in Bloomsbury Handbook of Culture and Identity; her creative non-fiction essay, ‘My Place Under the Sun’, was included in Adelaide Literary Magazine’s Best of 2020 anthology in February, 2021; and her latest animation film, ‘I am Ramdeen’, about the death penalty in India, is currently on the film-festival circuit. 

What do you think is the attraction of the fantasy genre?

Fantasy is able to reveal the magic on the periphery of the here and now. Rejecting the question of what can and cannot happen in the real world, it can often get to the heart of what really is happening, both in the world around us and within our own psyches.