20 Looks at The Lamb, 9: Getting In and Getting Out
One of the best-known songs on The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway seems to have more than one name. I’ve always thought of it as “The Carpet Crawlers,” but it has, on various packaging, been identified as “Carpet Crawlers” (no “The”), “The Carpet Crawl,” and “Carpet Crawl” (again, no “The”). Sometimes the referent is the crawlers, sometimes the crawl itself. And what happens when there is crawl or crawler, but no definite article?
The crawlers sing, “We’ve got to get in to get out.” That chamber at the top of the stairs (Is Doktor Freud still in the house? He considers in his writings how often stairs are associated with intercourse) is the “in” from which there is surely a way out. Up the stairs, into the chamber, and OUT. Near the end of Stephen King’s Dark Tower books, Roland ascends the stairs, gets in, and gets out. Semi-spoiler alert! But it’s profoundly important that I’ve not said to what, or to where, or to when. It spoils nothing, for it reveals not the spoils.
Why crawling? A sexual posture? Having just Counted Out Time, cuddling the porcupine, the sad ending of the previous tune makes it a bit surprising that we are still headed along a carpet into a red ochre corridor. But Rael is not a crawler. Perhaps he could not have seen and understood the crawlers as he did, had he been one of them himself.
There’s something about the very notions, the very words, ‘in’ and ‘out.’ Something about the way in which they are places, but they are places neither “in particular,” nor “in general.” They require each other so that the “in,” no matter where it actually is, must be the “in” of its own “out.” That’s what makes the crawlers’ logic seem unassailable. Given that this IS an “in,” there must be an “out,” AND there must be a way. Corridors and staircases are ways.
But here is the rub (mankind handkinds): All of this is unassailable only if this IS an “in.”
IN the cage. Back IN New York City. “…[A]s the notes and coins are taken out, I’m taken IN…” “You’re IN the Colony of Slippermen.” And like a woof to the warp of “in” are the “outs.” There are many (look for yourself). But does it somehow hinge on this strange locus called “in”?
It’s never clear, at any point in our story, that Rael moves — unambiguously passes — from an “in” to an “out.” Always the suggestion of a way out (“to get out if you’ve got the gripe…”), but never is there an “out” that shows its whole face, thus proving the existence of “in.”
Out! Out, damned “In”!
There must be some kinda way out of here, if here is an “in.”
But I’m thinking about that Tat Tvam Asi sort of ending, and wondering if we’re supposed to wonder, to wonder as we wander: Is there really any “in” in here?
Perhaps we’ve gotta get in to get out. Perhaps “in” is something that we don’t usually get, and The Lamb is trying to point this…