In the dream related to me. I had prepared a presentation on a vision that I had experienced. Materials showed the Virgin Mary superimposed on the moon. Advice was offered—Chelsea said I should let the dead rest, to leave them alone. Alex gave me better advice, a prayer to lead souls through purgatory, the Chaplet for the Anima Sola. 

Wanting to be open. Over a Zoom work session on Monday, talking with Dustin and Kate, I write in my notebook “I want to be open.” Twice, the date, and nothing else. We talk for forty minutes and then we all have to leave.

Always worried about the Kurosawa movie I watched once in the AV library. A small community on the edge of nowhere—a remote train station, or a junkyard. A woman advances to a widower’s house, in the night, her intention to seduce him. She looks through his window and is immediately repelled. “He is dead,” she later tells her friends. What did she see? A man washing rice. 

This morning I write about a TV show. Season 2, Episode 6, Schitt’s Creek. Dissolution: one wants the other to talk more, the other to talk less. It’s not important. Perhaps what we were holding onto no longer existed, and that was what made it so difficult. Can’t even remember when the fights started. A funny place to come to this understanding. 

Coming to understanding. There is nothing that I need. 

Dreamed I was writing equations here—complicated equations, algebraic, inspired by Lacan, with no hope of resolution. Equations that it was embarrassing to think I ever believed in. Dreamed my bicycle was stolen (an opportunity for a new one), dreamed of a cafeteria, of gluten-free noodles, of Marguerite behind the cash. Dreamed of wandering through an underground carnival—violent—dragging someone with me who didn’t want to be there. A sudden death—neither of us, but a third party who I had locked in a freezer, somehow nebulously enough that it was uncertain whether I bore any responsibility for his death. 

There are different ways of being kind. Kindness is sometimes hard to assess. It may be misrecognized, miscategorized, misreported. Often what is mistaken for kindness is anything but. Who was it for when you told me about your regret? About how hard you felt it? Who was it for when you told me about how much of you still wanted me? Not kind, but a kind of performance, for the ego, something to satisfy your own sense of guilt. Nice, not kind. You don’t want to be “bad.” You weren’t. But you put a string in. Held it. Made it a little harder for the one who didn’t want it to end. 

Small ziplock of liver treats in my winter coat, cut into tiny cubes that have somehow retained their shape. Hallam is almost unpassable on the south side—but I learn quickly that the ice isn’t everywhere so thick. Nostalgic light—children wait in their coats, kicking at the snow, while their parents lock up behind them. 

Second light like this in which I do not know you. Wake up from a dream that turns angry—you’ve invited someone to stay with you in the house up north, you take the master bedroom, I sleep in the basement, and still you won’t talk to me. I’m working outside and you go into the garage to paint—to get away, you say. There’s an animal strung up via something hanging down from the rafters, from a kite or lifejacket or the straps of something else displaced. It is struggling in the dim light. 

It seems like a dog—a whippet—but as I move closer I discover it is a fawn, panicked and wild. And you aren’t painting. You’re sitting on the tractor, where you explain that the deer was like that when you entered, and that anyway you’ve given up the dog that I thought it was—he had some minor complication which compelled you to make a switch. 

I am surprised that you could do that.  

I think we should lower the deer but am too afraid to go near it—you seem unconcerned, don’t want to help me, and are proven right in the end, as the deer shakes itself loose, bounds out of the garage on its own when I go to check up on it again. Still we aren’t talking, but communicating in the pages of a spiral-bound notebook that you’ve taken with you into the garage. 

Things are going well until you begin to write “Maybe next year…” and then cross it out. (“Is it evil?” you have recently wondered while making a similar statement.) I say I am going to march into the bedroom, kick the man—you say his name is “Jeff”—out. That’s not why I am angry but it feels like something I can control. In any case there’s really no reason he should be there—you have taken things too far, involved me when I need not be involved.

Something I picked up from the internet: “I am allowed to be angry with people when they hurt me, even if they are sensitive and can’t cope well with being told they did something wrong. Their sensitivity does not mean I have to bottle up my feelings and their lack of coping skills does not make me expressing my anger abusive.” 

Times when I couldn’t even say it. Couldn’t report the feeling without a back up, a fight. Even knowing that I loved you. What was left then but eruption, without the privacy of disengagement, of working towards some good end for bad feelings? If there is no room for disappointment then everything comes to an end. 

But I know I did the same.

Oh well. On my walk back this morning a mantra from a meditation that I am intimately familiar with comes to me, over and over. The most important phrase, I suddenly realize—notice, and let go. Notice, and let go. Acknowledgment and dispersal. It’s what I’m training myself to do. 

Whenever I sit down at the computer I feel the most intense anxiety. Whenever I look into a Zoom. Whenever I imagine myself speaking or thinking. Whenever someone looks into me. Whenever I am seen. Wherever I am. Where I am not. Last night in my dream I had to shit but all of the toilets I had to use in this house were covered in it, inside and out, mountains of shit. One of the toilets—the otherwise least offensive one—had a perfectly compacted turd delicately wrapped around the handle. “Why would anyone do this!” I shouted, but there was no one there to hear me. I found a toilet which had acres of shit in it, yes—pale brown shit rolling in the basin like a landscape of jagged turf—but which at least had a relatively clean seat and handle. Flushing did not help. And shit flew out of me, somehow both too enthusiastically and with reluctance. I could find no relief, but the shit was endless—claggy and slow and clinging and violent and rotten. I did my best to contain it, to wipe myself, to wipe the toilet, but it would not stop. (A similar dream, eight years ago, when I was being stalked, but in that instance it was blood, not shit, blood pouring out of my eyes in the mirror; blood, the substance which, when dead, gives shit its colour.) The house was empty but it soon filled with a group of people. A group of people who descended on the toilets—and who found me, still shitting, on the one I had chosen. “Look at what he’s done,” they said, pointing not only to my toilet but to all of them. I tried to explain that I had tried to contain things as much as I could, that I had found them like that and that I wanted to clean what I was responsible for but that I wasn’t even done. They gave me a look that demonstrated that of course they didn’t believe me.

Later in the dream: somehow I had recovered from this situation enough that I was dating three people. One and then two more, diverse genders (as diverse as could be expected in a sample of three). No one I have seen or am seeing. I had been more committed to one and then two introduced themselves, became involved with me quickly, something I momentarily desired but seemingly against my will. I didn’t enjoy it—and woke up relieved, a kind of shock rare but thrilling when it comes to dreams, relieved that I didn’t have to date any one of them, that I wouldn’t have to reel from the fallout of my choices the night before. 

Fragments of an In-Depth Analysis of The Author’s Video Collection

[The first few paragraphs are nearly unreadable, but from the words that survive, here and there, one gets an idea of the tone: cynical, and disaffected. What’s left is hardly worth reproducing. It’s sufficient that you keep in mind the low opinion this particular critic (the name is lost; some say it’s Aubin, others Mandelstein, still others an unknown critic) must have held of The Author.]

Once Upon a Time in the West
[–] a haunting score, the harmonica especially is evocative, the notes float out of Charles Bronson like a row of white sheets twisting in the wind […] The long cuts, Sergio Leone’s signature, are his longest. The movie unfolds in geologic time; it feels as if one has sat down to watch weeds grow in the hot Arizona sun. No doubt The Author kept this movie in his collection because he wanted to think of himself as a contemplative man, though most contemporary sources discredit that notion (all the more reason to cultivate it!) […] Finally, we cannot forget the tuberculosis-ridden railway director (by far the most important figure in our understanding of The Author), who dreams of reaching (with his railroad) the Pacific Ocean, even as he lays dying. In many ways the railway director is The Author, who was always focused on “The Water! The Water!”, though he must have known that his life would end crawling pathetically to a puddle (for all his delusions, his moments of clarity were remarkably prescient).

[?Blade Runner]
[–] indicative of his obsession with dreams. The original title of the novel the movie is based on, remember, is “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”, but that isn’t [–] the synth of the music score evokes an android paradise [–] fascination with Brutalist architecture: a form that simultaneously reminds the viewer that he is human (by dwarfing him) and implies his kind has a higher calling (by paying him no attention).

Jurassic Park

[–] It is interesting that The Author’s generation was one of the first that could, beginning in their early adulthood, constantly relive seminal or affecting moments from their collective pasts: through old television shows on YouTube and other video-sharing websites, DVD collections, and, in the case of video games, through abandonware and repackaging. This is by no means an original observation: in his book “The Nostalgia [?Princes]”, Cromwell suggests that it is this easy availability of juvenile experience (coupled with an almost total lack of responsibility) [–] widespread, catastrophic food crises of the 20’s and 30’s and the [–] a globally recognised dominance and opulence that might never be seen again. [–] fundamentally different than returning to childhood books, because our understanding of books is fluid, carrying the assumption that we have intellectually grown in the interim (i.e. increased comprehension, increased focus, increased vocabulary, etc) [–] how does one need to grow to enjoy Super Mario? Or a television program or movie that he has always had on DVD or videocassette? [–] a transference of adolescence, from the video (or the video game) to the viewer.

Citizen Kane, Hamlet, Killer of Sheep
The lugubrious “classics”: how can one who thinks himself an intellectual avoid them? Whether or not he has ever seen or enjoyed these movies is anyone’s guess. Reading through his diaries and his journals, one doesn’t find them. They are, therefore, insignificant, except as wallpaper.

Waking Life

I find it disappointing, and perhaps even grotesque, that one who has so much reverence for dreams should have this movie. [Here the page is torn. It’s uncertain whether what follows is part of the discourse on the above movie, a different one, or a part of another related, but lost, manuscript.] a snail on the lid of a compost bin after a night of solid rain. The Author sees the snail and marvels at it: “What an ugly thing a snail is!” he thinks, “But how much compassion I seem to have for it… what is it that makes one enjoy snails but not other, similar creatures, such as earwigs or cockroaches? Why does the snail give me pleasure and the cockroach remove it, when it’s clear, really, that they’re both the same thing?” [–] but really the thought is of an order as low as possible, and simultaneously thought by everyone, all at the same time.

Dreams? Dreams??!

expos

Yesterday the Blue Jays took a five run lead into the 8th, but gave it up almost as soon as Roy Halladay stopped pitching. Later that game, in the 11th inning, they would take a two-run lead into the eleventh inning and still lose 11-10. It was their ninth loss in a row, a quick reversal for a team that spent the first one and half months in first place of the AL East, and looked, despite assertions to the contrary by everyone who thought their team would have been in first place, like a serious contender. In the minds of those who doubted, their dreams have become reality, and reality has fizzled into dreams. For Blue Jay fans, and I’m only being a little bit facetious here, “these are the times that try men’s souls.”

But if the Blue Jays must continue losing, perhaps it’s better that their success has returned to the land of dreams, because, after all, that is where their “winning” can be the most satisfying. Last year, after finishing a disappointing fourth in the AL East, Jays fans consoled themselves with the fact that the Jays were a really good team that just seemed to have terrible luck, and they actually played much better than their record indicated: in fact, they were probably the fourth best team in the American League, not just the American League East. The 2008 team played on in their fan’s imaginations, not only as they actually played, but also in scenarios where they had tremendous luck, not just what they needed to get their “deserved” Pythagorean amount of wins (94), but well above that– and extending into the post-season, where they won the World Series. While it isn’t the same as having actually won it, imaginary wins can be more satisfying because they don’t come with all of the baggage that usually appends reality: questions of whether or not they really deserved it, whether they could do it again in the same circumstances, whether their winning actually ‘means anything’ for those who don’t play professional baseball for a living, etc. Like ballast, these questions drag against reality and, for some, dampen the realisation of the dream. But in an “illusory win” they rarely occur, simply because it never occurs to the dreamer to “realise” them.

One of the greatest examples of these sorts of collective hallucinations is the Montreal Expos’ team of the strike-shortened 1994 season. The Expos had been moderately successful for a while, but in that season they came out nowhere and led the major leagues with a record of 74-40, a tremendous feat they accomplished with veteran starting pitching and surprising young hitting. Could they have sustained that through the rest of the season, into the post-season, and won? It’s hard to say. In ’94 I remember reading a MAD magazine “article” about the strike that suggested the Cleveland Indians would have won that year. The Indians’ season wasn’t spectacular, but they certainly could have won. But few remember their season, or that of any other potential playoff team, because it has been, over time, almost unanimously decided that the Expos really “won”. You have to admit, it makes a great story: the team was broken up shortly after, Montreal never regained its pre-strike levels of attendance (supposedly due to the collective heartbreak of Expos fans), and eventually the team moved to Washington. It was the last chance for the Expos, and the MLB blew it. But the ’94 World Series stands as the only World Series not tainted by anterior questions. The Expos won, and few question it. It’s almost like a fairy tale– and probably one more satisfying than if the Expos had won and the team been moved anyway.

I am not saying that Blue Jays fans should be glad for the current losing streak because it will allow them to dream about what might have happened to the Blue Jays without it. It’s a long season and who knows what storylines will emerge, or how the final standings will look. I say only that the illusory season before the losing streak, the one that caused fans to expect wins every night, and to talk casually about the playoffs, still existed, just as it still exists. A nine, or even eighteen-game losing streak can’t take that away. And in some ways maybe it will end up even sweeter in the mind than the season of whichever team (to its own fans) eventually does win it, because, after all, these are only games, and they have little-or-no bearing on real life. Winning is a let-down, because what do you do after? But in the mind their need not be such questions if the wins were only possibilities to begin with.

Guilt

alien1

The other night I dream a name most of you don’t know. It would be irresponsible to reproduce it. We’re in the aerie of an old, twisting castle built of elegant wood panelling, iron rails, and limestone. There are many of us: a tribe. We crouch over slate shingles and jump from one roof to the next. Balconies and corridors are blocked off, and in the passages beyond hiss spider-people making slow progress. It’s understood they are our enemies.

The name turns to me and exposes his back. It’s criss-crossed with deep cuts healed over with dried blood. “Scratch your tattoo into it,” he says, and I balk.

“Excuse me?”

He’s upset. “Scratch your tattoo into it,” he says again, pressing. I have a vague idea he wants me to draw him a cartoon. The spider-men attack, and we’re seperated. All of humanity is refugee, and I, winding my own meandering path through the action (once I fire a missile, but there is no report; someone tells me I’m not to pass back into a section of the castle already lost, I go anyway), come across miserable groups huddled up in patches, spread out on old rags and laying stock-still, as if waiting for death; the fighting goes on all about them, shaking the walls.

From time to time I come across the name again, and he makes no mention of the tattoo. He only seems disappointed. This section of the dream ends. Continue reading →