September 23rd, 2008

Four Days

August 20th, 2006

Trying to remember fragments of my dream. We were in San Francisco, but not exactly. It was like San Francisco merged with some steep-hilled European city. S. was pushing our Balinese cat in a baby carriage. No, maybe she was on her bike. I remember pink. At one point, she started down an especially steep hill and K. was concerned. I was running to keep up, telling her to use her breaks the whole way down.

Later, we had gotten down to a flat area near the water and had crossed a large, curvy road -- more European than Market Street or the Embarcadero -- and had sat down on a large grassy area, almost a median. My parents were there too, all of a sudden. I was trying to get K. to put the harness on the cat so she'd be safe. K. was giving me the, "You're too into rules and regulations," argument or somerthing akin to it. It got heated. She was appealing to my parents to support her and they sort of went along with the force of her will. Even S. was agreeing with K. I started getting really upset.

Eventually, I gave in. And then the cat ran out into the big street after seeing some alluring movement. I ran out after her. She was in a small concrete median with a big, black rabbit. I scooped her up. When I brought her back to the family, though, K. was still giving me grief about the harness. I don't recall exactly, but I think the cat got away a few more times before K. finally helped me to put on the harness.

Then the dream shifted. There was like a giant movie preview in the sky. It started out with one of those, "From the director of," spiels. The movie was called Raffi. I don't remember much, but the images started with a man and a woman flying in that Chinese Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon way against a pretty obviously artificial cityscape of vaguely Middle Eastern-Mediterranean design. I'm not sure what happened in the rest of the preview, but I recall a lot of globe-trotting. It was definitely in that magic realism vein, a la the new Michel Gondry film with Gabriel Garcia Bernal, The Science of Sleep. I do recall, though, that it was set in the Middle East and therefore was engaging, as I was thinking while watching it in my dream, with the Iraq War etc. in interesting ways.

August 21st, 2006

I didn't feel the need to try to capture my right-before-waking dream of this past night. It was pretty vivid, though, which surprised me, since I didn't get as much sleep as on previous nights and generally dream better when I'm better rested.

The only thing worth getting down is that it ended with some sort of photography-reality interplay where I was supposed to interact in some way with the images before me. The photos were famous ones I recognized, as best I can recall. The only one I had a distinct impression of after waking, however, was Dorothea Lange's iconic shot of a woman suffering the ravages of the Dust Bowl.

I think I'm trying to remember my dreams by tagging them with a word or phrase when I open my eyes. Today's was clearly "Dorothea Lange." From a Freudian standpoint, that tagging operation -- I'm thinking of Bettie Serveert's "Brain Tag" now -- seems significant, like the decision to pick a particular word or words might reveal something about what I do and don't wish to remember. Yesterday's was "Raffie," for example.

* * *

Coming out of my antihistamine daze a few minutes ago, I reached for The Confessions of Augustine and started reading. I didn't make it very far, but was struck by how even the first few sections of the first chapter manage, though a series of questions, to bring innumerable problems in the human conception of God to light. How can God come to you when he's everywhere? Why does he want an offering of prayer or respect from us, when we can only give him back the gifts he imparted to begin with? In a way, that first portion of the book is a good deal like a groundwork for Ludwig Feuerbach's critique of religion. The difference, I suppose, it that Augustine appears to be trying to make the point that the problem lies within our own incapacities. Our imagination -- and the language to dress it -- can't deal with a reality that transcends the one we know.

August 22nd, 2006

I just composed a short poem in Xjournal. Actually, I started out just wanting to capture my extreme antsiness -- now diminishing as the food I ate kicks in -- and ended up in poem mode. It's like I've suddenly rediscovered that voice I'd cultivated in the wake of Thom Gunn's seminar, the one which, inspired by Michael Palmer and Language Poetry, managed to balance abstraction with immediacy:

Tabula Rasa

Where's all this heat coming from?
Between my skin, the coiled wires wait
In fades of gray. The strait curves,
Like a side of meet latticed into obsequious
Ease. The tears on my forehead cry
For iodine. Even the noise of my fan
Wants bluing. Let's come together
At the laundromat and open our Lockes
To the appointed passage. Life, liberty and

Maybe the loss of that voice had something to do with the fact that I had shown that "field of more" poem to R. shortly before he betrayed me by trying to take K. away from me. Maybe that's what shut me off. I know that the experience, together with J.'s concomitant betrayal, soured me on a bunch of things I haven't thought enough about. Could it be that, because of K.'s current attempt at educating someone in poetry that I'm now able to deal with that earlier trauma? Hard to say.

As far as the poem goes, I should note that the first, not-carefully-considered title was "Miserly Loves Excess." The word "meet" was a typo, but I changed "Let's meet" further down to "Let's convene" and then the much better "Let's come together" as a way of drawing attention back to that fortuitous slip-up. The pun on Locke and then "passage" was pre-meditated, though in the moment, since this was a fast composition. So were the "tears," with the sense of "rip" balanced alonsided "tear," and "strait" for "straight," and "fades of gray" for "shades of gray." Not that pre-meditation matters, necessarily. . . I added "coiled" late because it made the line longer and then realized, as I was sounding it out, that it does a nice job of anticipating the latticed meat/meet of the next image, for which I had a picture in my mind of a flank steak tied with string around some filling.

In terms of content, I did set out to convey a restlessness abetted by a dirty -- shamed? -- feeling. So the idea of washing the bad stuff away was there from the outset. I was pleased with the idea for "wants bluing" for that reason, since I had been noticing the white noise of my fan. What you get, then, is the sense of fabric that is both soiled and wrinkled -- "strait curves" -- that needs to be thoroughly washed and then starched and/or ironed. That's great from the standpoint of the title I chose because it underscores the notion that the "tabula rasa" is not something we're born with, but something we aspire to achieve through self-purification, but always find ourselves having to aspire to again and again.

August 23rd, 2006

I woke up on the sofa around 4:30pm feeling antsy. I tried retreating to the bedroom, but my head was filled with stressful thoughts. I got up, took an Alka-Seltzer, and went back to bed. At first I thought I would just stay up, but then I finally drifted off. Well, it only took a few minutes. But those minutes telescoped inside me to feel like hours. I didn't wake feeling refreshed, either. Maybe it's allergies. Whatever the reason, I'm having a hard time getting rolling and I need to get rolling. Seriously. Maybe reading will help. Or writing. I wonder if I'll make headway on the day better if I start here, free associating my way into a sense of "flow."

You know, as I do this more and more, I'm starting to pin down the way in which I write. I tend to hear the words coming, if that's the right verb, before I type them. There's a delay between the word's arrival and my recording it, which gives me time to make corrections. And I can keep a few words at least in a "buffer memory," so that I can go back to change things I've modified in typing to their original state. I'm not sure that's meaningful, but it feels important.

Why did I sit down here? Oh, yes. I wanted to talk about my compulsion to pick up the Menschheitsdämmerung anthology this morning and to then seek out my volume of Aktion facsimiles. At first I was just going to log it as one of my ways of not doing what I need to be doing. But then I realized the F. connection vis-a-vis the former anthology. I think I realized it at the time but didn't make a note to write about it.