October 31st, 2003

Dick's Picks, Volume 4

Poring through one of my old notebooks, I found this entry:
Dream: early a.m. Feb. 17, 1991

On a mission of some sort into a closed-off land I am forced to squeeze through this narrow cave with a door at the end on my belly. Paradoxically, I can see beyond the door, which is actually on an axis at right angles to the passage. Through it, I realize the mission is to enter Iraq. I am in a village of some sort. I commit myself to the care of a family. The village is very high up on a mountain. The family's house opens up off the village's main street. The back of this house looks out over a valley far below.

-- I forgot: when I crawl through the passageway to the door, there is someone on the other side guarding it. Several people actually. They say something to me. I respond in English, "No war," and maybe also, "No blood for oil," or some similar slogan. They open the door and welcome me heartily. --

Anyway, there are lots of people in this 'family''s house. I am invited to a feast of some sort, maybe even in my honor. At any rate, I am greeted very warmly by everyone in attendance. In the course of this feast, I think to myself that the sharing of food really does forge community, think of Roham and our house (984 57th St., Oakland) dinners and regret not having wholeheartedly taken part in them. After dinner I go out on the balcony with some people to talk, look down into the valley below. It's sunset. The war is playing itself out below. Somehow I find out during the conversation that Iraq's missile guidance systems are all up on this hill, not down below where the bombing is. I make some comment about how lucky they are that the Americans don't know, just at the moment explosions burst all around me. Thinking, on some level, that the house will collapse just like in an earthquake, I frantically look around for something to cover my head with. I think it's a book I end up grabbing as I run for the walls to seek shelter under a doorway, knowing the center will collapse first. After I reach one, the bombing stops. I go outside, looking at the rest of the village, unscathed, then down into the valley. For the first time, I notice the enormous, Houston-like skyscrapers of what I take to be Baghdad looming up out of the valley way below, up to my eye-level. They are all covered in reflective window-material which glows purple-blue, reflecting the gathering night. Behind them on a horizon half-way up their height a sliver of orange marks the sky's last light.
-- here Kim woke me up upset because she was so dizzy, which is why I remembered the dream so vividly, going over it in my head on the way to and from the bathroom, wanting to say, "Wow" over and over.

-- in retrospect the house on the hill with the valley below mirrors the geographical situation of the Riethe's house in Bopfingen. It is true, thinking back on it, that in pictures of bombed German cities only the walls stand, the middle of buildings having given way.
Immediately after this entry, there is a short one referring back to the dream:
crouched in a run, the book in my hands shields my head: this is irony
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Haunted Habitats

Watching The Others the other night and part of Rosemary's Baby yesterday got me thinking about why I have so much more interest in the haunted house subgenre than other cultural manifestations of horror.

In addition to having lived in old and possibly "haunted" houses, as I mentioned in a previous entry, the historical dimension to haunted spaces intrigues me.

I had a lot of fun with Kim at the Winchester Mystery House -- Skylar would love it, now, I bet -- back in our California days.

My friend Annalee wrote a piece on the house around the time of our visit that does a nice job of saying what I would otherwise try, haltingly, to articulate here. As Frederic Jameson famously put it, "History is what hurts."

Happy Halloween. . .
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