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Midnight Cave, Texas: The Experiment.

Midnight Cave, Texas:
The Experiment
--For Michel Siffre

 A man descends into a cave
 long abandoned by bats. For six months
 the electrodes and wires of science
 bristle from his head.
 in the dark chest of the earth,
 a hundred feet beneath the seasons
 and with no clock but
 the wound timepiece of himself,
 he seeks his own rhythms.
 Above him colleagues monitor
 his vital functions
 and turn the lights on
 and off at his request.
 His dreams, of course, are his own,
 part of the self's short-circuit,
 not to be monitored by the surface crew.
 After the 130th cycle
 there are no days), after waking
 in panic in absolute darkness,
 he writes, "When you find yourself
 alone, isolated
 in a world totally without time,
 face-to-face with yourself, all
 the masks that you hide behind--
 those that preserve your own illusions,
 those that protect them before others--
 finally fall, sometimes brutally."
 The man sits on a rock
 in the circle of light
 around his pale-blue tent
 for a succession of eternities
 swaying mindlessly. He daydreams
 of the dense jungles of Guatemala,
 the sunlight filtering
 through wet leaves. His boyhood
 fantasy of finding Mayan relics
 somehow sustains him:
 "I will go to Central America
 and I will regain control of my soul."
 On the floor of the cave
 the dust of ancient bat guano
 filters, particle by fine particle,
 through itself.

Copyright Al Zolynas. Originally published in THE NEW PHYSICS, Wesleyan University Press, 1979.
COPYRIGHT 2007 U.S. National Center for Infectious Diseases
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2007, Gale Group. All rights reserved.

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Author:Zolynas, Al
Publication:Emerging Infectious Diseases
Date:Sep 1, 2007
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