Voices

April 12, 2018

Ideal voices and beloved
of those who have died, or of those
who are lost to us like the dead.

Sometimes, within our dreams, they speak;
sometimes the mind can hear them in our thoughts.

And with their sound for an instant return
sounds from the early poetry of our life –
like music in the night, faraway, that fades.

C P Cavafy
Trans. Anthony Hirst

desecrate it at a touch

February 24, 2018

Dreams, memories, the sacred – they are all alike in that they are beyond our grasp. Once we are even marginally separated from what we can touch, the object is sanctified; it acquires the beauty of the unattainable, the quality of the miraculous. Everything, really, has this quality of sacredness, but we can desecrate it at a touch. How strange man is! His touch defiles and yet he contains the source of miracles.

Yukio Mishima
Spring Snow

Dreams

February 15, 2018

Dreams come from the night.
Where do they go?
Everywhere.
What do you dream with?
With the mouth.
Where is the dream?
In the night.

Jean Piaget
The Child’s Conception of the World
(Interview with a seven year old child)

dreams

February 8, 2018

I desired always to stretch the night and fill it fuller and fuller with dreams.

Virginia Woolf
The Waves

I’ve used dreams in my fiction in various ways. In order to keep from writing a long essay on this subject, I’ll provide only a few examples. In some of my stories the protagonist will have a dream that advances the plot, which is the simplest and most often used function of dreams in fiction. In “The Sect of the Idiot,” for instance, a dream turns out to be a vision of something fantastic that turns out to exist in reality. In this case, the dream prepared the revelation of a fantastic metaphysics. The inversion of this method is familiar to readers of ghost stories in which a character meets someone who is later revealed to be dead and therefore could only have been a ghost. In other stories of mine, a dream might explicate a concept, theme, or something that might otherwise come across as too cerebral in the waking section of the narrative. The dream in “The Sect of the Idiot” also serves this function. In “The Bungalow House,” I described a series of what I designated as “dream monologues” that were recorded on tape and intended to be works of art. The first dream monologue was a transcription of an actual dream I had and wrote down soon after I awoke, so it was also initiated my writing of the entire story. A second dream monologue in “The Bungalow House” was only summarized, while a third was simply given a title, because at that point I had established the nature of the dream monologues in their incidents and meaning. For my purposes, to describe each dream monologue in its entirety would have slowed the pace of the story. All of the dream monologues were used to characterize the peculiar nature of the main character’s psychology. Sometimes I’ll characterize the events of a narrative as being dreamlike in some specific way, because over the years I’ve noted qualities that characterize dreams, such as that they have no beginning, an idea that was recently used in the movie Inception to prove to a character that she was functioning in a dream and not in conventional reality. A very short story I wrote called “One May Be Dreaming” is pretty obviously a dream from beginning to end. The whole point of the story was that the protagonist was having a dream at the same time he was dying in real life. Usually, it’s not exposed until the end of the story that the whole thing was a dream. For his story “Where He Was Going,” William Burroughs employs this method, his use of which he credits to Ernest Hemingway’s “Snows of Kilimanjaro.” “Man from the South” was Jorge Luis Borges’s rendition of this narrative structure. Perhaps I should say that I don’t think that dreams are anything more than rearranged experiences, sensations, and emotions. While they may easily be interpreted as symbolic or premonitory or whatever, I don’t believe that they are anything but intrusions upon what might otherwise be wholly unconscious hours of sleep.

Thomas Ligotti
Interview with Wonderbook

the language of dreams

October 28, 2017

The best fantasy is written in the language of dreams. It is alive as dreams are alive, more real than real…for a moment at least…that long magic moment before we wake.

George R R Martin
Included in Pati Perret’s The Faces of Fantasy

Omens

October 21, 2017

The dead bird, colour of a bruise,
and smaller than an eye
swollen shut,
is king among omens.
Who can blame the ants for feasting?
Let him cast the first crumb.
#
We once tended the oracles.
Now we rely on a photograph
a fingerprint
a hand we never saw
coming.
#
A man draws a chalk outline
first in his mind
around nothing
then around the body
of another man.
He does this without thinking.
#
What can I do about the white room I left
behind? What can I do about the great stones
I walk among now? What can I do
but sing.
Even a small cut can sing all day.
#
There are entire nights
I would take back.
Nostalgia is a thin moon,
disappearing
into a sky like cold,
unfeeling iron.
#
I dreamed
you were a drowned man, crown
of phosphorescent, seaweed in your hair,
water in your shoes. I woke up desperate
for air.
#
In another dream, I was a field
and you combed through me
searching for something
you only thought you had lost.
#
What have we left at the altar of sorrow?
What blessed thing will we leave tomorrow?

Cecilia Llompart

provide sacrificial tribute

September 16, 2017

12 – 15 th September

My dreams: feverish ramblings through some mythic wilderness. Troubling storms in the night, gales and rain, rain, rain.

We should all bow down to the great sky cock and provide sacrificial tribute. Say, the odd virgin or three – but if they’re too hard to find, what about a couple of goats?

They’re naming these feckin’ storms now. Shitty Kitty would be a good name –

I’m thinking of building an Ark –

Then, abruptly, trapped in this breathless precision of silence. Where’d the wind go? Did some bastard cut the throat of a virgin? Is the storm finally ended? Or have I gone deaf?

#

Enough. I’ve had enough of here. Of work, of people. I need a break from it all. So, off to the north coast we do go. A room at the top of a tall building overlooking the sea. Observe at first hand the rage of the ocean as it hammers the rocky coastline.

Oh, wonderful. Our windows full of sky and ocean and we can look across to the coast path, all elbow bends as it climbs towards a truncated horizon. And, amazingly, the rain has stopped!

Food here is out of this world. Excellent. Great choice of wines, too. We spend our time walking on the rocks, or gazing out to sea while seated on wooden bench seats, or making love in our rooms. At night the sea sounds like an express train rolling through the darkness.

Morning walks in the wind, foam flying from the sea. Luminous grey sea, banded emerald green further out. Sun burn on my face, and occasional bouts of ecstasy. Last night loving again, wild, free, in a world of magic, drunk on fleshy bliss –

But all good things come to an end. Time to return to the daily grind…

29th July

It’s a time to pause and think. No one is coming to rescue you from this –

You think this is as bad as it can get?

You’re wrong, trust me. The pain has become you, hasn’t it? Anymore and you’ll break in pieces? Yet this is only the beginning –

Yeah, wade through that red sea of pain, feel yourself fuelled by it – feel your head enter a different place, that place of foggy mornings and stillness which touches your soul. Yes, you may burn – burn out. But you know you’ll come back, you always do, reborn out of the flames –

Breath in –

Breath out –

Effortless…well, just a little ragged, perhaps. But that’s to be expected, isn’t it? Take pleasure in it. And when she tightens the clamp and the metal teeth bite deeper, smile. Eat the freaking pain whole, master it, and ask for more –

You are like a tree standing against gale-force winds: you might bend but you will not break. You can smell the earth after a fall of rain, and the musty scent of old books which you love. You think of long conversations that go on through the night, and afternoons spent listening to music, or the sound of owls hunting in the darkness when you’re alone. You think too of the word: the ‘SAFE WORD’ that can end this torment –

But you know you will never use it –

You are drifting away from reality. Your body is a piano on which is played this music of pain, but you have slipped away. There, yet not there. Real, yet unreal. A tiny splinter of living agony, only partly aware…

#

I dreamed I was in the old house. All the mirrors had been covered with white sheeting. Nothing could be reflected. I could not see myself –

People used to do that when someone died, didn’t they? Close the drapes and cover the mirrors. Very fitting. Most apt.

I was in the old house but my dogs were not. My beautiful shaggy dogs had finally abandoned me to my fate.

I felt very sad.

#

Morning. Sky the colour of a three day old bruise. Body all aches and pains, the penalty of too much consensual abuse –

H C asking about my work last night. ‘It’s general themes are about our isolation in a hostile world,’ says I, in my most poncey voice. ‘We all of us exist in a capricious, deceptive, threatening world – a world full of corruption. I, as a writer, manipulate coincidence and show how close to the edge we all really are. Our commonplace fears are as nothing compared to the arbitrary and incomprehensible menace usually surrounding us -’

‘Oh, really?’

It’s pointless saying anything else. The concepts are beyond H C’s comprehension and semi-detached, rural life. Instead I recite:

The storm came across the coast
To the rolling moor
And the rain tasted of so much
Bitterness…

such dangerous things

July 22, 2017

This is why dreams can be such dangerous things: they smoulder on like a fire does, and sometimes they consume us completely.

Arthur Golden
Memoirs of a Geisha