Friday, July 27, 2007

In my dream this morning I am visiting Gerald Murnane. I have been out walking with him and we run into a person who asks whether we will get ‘unmarried’.

‘No,’ I said, ‘never married, not he and I.’ I can see that GM is thrown by the question as if it brings us too close. He has written me a letter about his experience of paragliding. I imagine him in the air hands outstretched, arms in front, gliding under the safety of his umbrella parachute. His buddy only inches above him. In his letter and in my imagination, GM has started to doubt his ability. He starts to doubt the safety of the wind currents. Paragliding in my dream requires a certainty of purpose. The glider must believe in what he is doing. The glider must be confident in his movements. Any jerkiness, or sudden disruption to his movements can cause him to get out of sync with the wind current on which he glides and he can fall like a stone. (I had similar thoughts landing in Melbourne yesterday night on my return from the conference. I saw the lights of Melbourne scattered below like a widespread Christmas tree and imagined as we drew nearer at what point it would be safe for the plane to lose control. I did not anticipate the landing. I had stopped looking out the window and suddenly the gut wrenching thump of the plane’s wheels on the tarmac, the fuselage trembling and the adrenaline rush to my underarms and we were safely landed.)

Meanwhile in my dream GM is up in the air trying to wrest back control of his mind from his fear. He describes this process to me in a letter and I draw parallels between that fear and his fear of our relationship, which I sense is accelerating. Soon he will want to have no more of me.

I am in his bedroom now, in my dressing gown. He has pointed out the stained glass image of the Blessed Virgin at the front door and another image etched in glass on another door further down the hall way. He lives in this house with his mother. I only visit when I am sure she is away.

GM’s mother does not approve of GM having relationships with women. This is part of his fear. The door to his bedroom opens.

‘Mother,’ GM says. A beautiful woman with dark way hair and an angelic face stands at the threshold looking in aghast at the sight of this other woman, me as I am now, sitting on the floor in my dressing gown.

‘Gerald,’ she says, ‘get her out of here’, as if to say get rid of that thing. I have become a filthy object, the sight of which is unbearable.

GM leaps from the bed, a dutiful son. ‘Yes mother, yes mother.’

Gerald’s mother is not alone. Her friend looks in over her shoulder. This friend and I exchange glances. This friend will intercede, I hope.

‘I will need to get dressed first,’ I say as I gather my clothes that are scattered around the room.

Gerald’s mother walks off to the kitchen. Her friend hovers nearby.

‘She can’t possibly be serious,’ I say to the friend. ‘Gerald’s a grown man for god’s sake. He even looks older than his mother.’ This is true. GM’s mother looks as though she is in her mid to late thirties, an attractive dark haired woman, who could herself be looking for someone. Like the actor, Gemma Craven, married to the hero Arthur in Pennies from Heaven.

I dress in the bathroom, the same bathroom as the one I used as a child in Cheltenham and Camberwell, a cross between the two. Green linoleum on the floor, a tatty plastic shower curtain with a line of water stain caressing the bottom.

I wake before I have a chance to remonstrate with GM about his subservience to this woman. She’s his mother for god’s sake. She should let him go.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Something happening I can't remember. Then daylight and I'm in a dormitory with cubicles plain white walls and bare. I've been staying temporarily as a visitor with some dancers. They take no notice of me: I don't speak their language. I'm getting ready to leave, waiting for my son to tell me the way to the station. He tells me it's a short walk away. As I walk along the platform with soldiers and others, I accidentally hit the leg of an officer with the corner of my small suitcase. I apologise. He makes out it's of no consequence, but I notice he's now limping. It's a bright sunny day. The train is in, but I see that many of the carriages are full. My son urges me to get quickly into the last carriage as the train is ready to depart. I step onto a broad wooden step - a much extended running-board - at the doorway of the carriage but there's no door. I stand there and there's just time to say 'I hope I see you again soon'.

The carriage is an old wooden one, crudely furnished with various cheap chairs and benches. The seats are mostly taken. There's a compartment with beds with people stretched out on them covered with grey blankets. Some people are sitting at little tables laid for dinner. I can't sit there: I haven't got any money. To get to a seat I have to climb over a row of spindly chairs with high backs. There are several people sitting on them. The row of chairs goes right across the carriage. I try to throw one leg over the back of a chair. But I can't do it and say to a woman sitting there, 'I'm not a dancer'. She doesn't understand that I'm explaining why I can't climb over them that way. When I have climbed over, rather clumsily, I tell her I'm only a social dancer. Finally I get to sit down.

Almost immediately a man's voice calls out 'Silence!' Two men come in carrying a stretcher with a dead soldier on it, lifting it above our heads. Then two more come in with another stretcher, with a seriously wounded soldier on it. Behind me, as he deposits the dead body on the side of the railway track one of the men is saying 'What else can I do, other than dust it with chalk?'.

The sadness of parting with my son wakes me.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A lot of people are in a large hall with cushions in front and chairs in the back and a movie screen on the wall facing the audience. Ann Lauterbach comes in and starts narrating a black-and-white silent film she had made called Derek and Nora's Tumble. We see a boy and a girl in their teens falling sort of haphazardly down a hill. Godard comes in and sits on one of the cushions. Ann explains the deeper meaning of the film -- falling and redemption -- and points out symbols in the various scenes that we hadn't noticed before.
He's in his forge, the tiny wooden building's window glowing orange, but static, no movement in the light, as if trapped and blurred in a photograph. And I feel like a camera. I'm a witness device, recording something happening at dusk, as if this is a particular day. Always with him, ice and gravel cracking under foot. I take some evidence, an inventory: carpenter's musk; manipulated tin; rust colored paint; talk and tedium; dinner in the near future; a bench; blood/blushing; blue sweater tattoo. Wherever we move, he and I are always the same distance from one another, I begin to suspect. I test this every way I know-- which involves saying and listening and other things, smaller and making less sense-- and find that it's true. The exact distance seems to be constant, no matter what.

Monday, July 9, 2007

On a flight to Turkey, Klaus Kinski berates me for taking Werner Herzog’s side against him after we watch “My Best Fiend: Klaus Kinski” together on his iPhone. His bloodshot, cerulean eyes—always already bulging—are strained near the point of socket explosion as he screams and rants at me: you are hardly the exquisite writer I buried 10 years ago! His contorted, enraged face is so close to mine, I end up breathing in the sweat off his forehead.

I notice a hat pin holding a deeply luscious, humid, creamy gardenia to his lapel. I think of using the pin to puncture the whites of his eyes if he tries to strangle me—which is what he threatens to do. He moves to grab my throat but his hands fall instead on the notebook lying open on my lap, which he searches frantically for evidence of my true hatred for him. I try to stay calm and explain that Herzog was only trying to make everyone believe Kinski was insane in order to promote a greater interest in his films. I point out, too, that I'm not the person he buried. That I'm still very much alive, and that in fact, it is Kinski who is dead.

Suddenly in control of himself, he dismissively replies: only the grim poet needs to point this out.
I dreamt that Charles Bernstein and Richard Tuttle, who have collaborated before, were presenting a new piece. It was a large piece, perhaps 3'x2', of sepia-tinged translucent glass. Superimposed onto the glass were almost illegible words that had been put through a dirt filter; a picture of a Japanese man driving a car; and telephone wires. In the dream, everyone gasped at its beauty.

Friday, July 6, 2007

I dreamt I was in some sort of hotel or boarding house with many floors. I was just moving in and my luggage was stored in someone else's room. When I go into the room I see John Ashbery there picking up his luggage. He sees lying on an end table a piece of yellow silk charmeuse with a ribbon attached to the top so it can be hung like a banner or a prayer flag. On the silk is typed a long Shakespeare monologue, but I couldn't see which one – it was about the length of "To be or not to be," with the same sort of line lengths. He looks up smiling from reading it and says it reminds him of a beach in England where there are very long waves – I can't remember the name of the beach, but it began with H. Hellespont? Anyway, H_____ Beach was famous for its surfers but especially for a group of blind surfers that surfed only there. JA said that the imagery in the monologue was just like seeing the blind surfers at H______ Beach.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Guam, where there are no longer any birds. I walk into a mess of spider webs. Spiders and spiders, and no birds to eat them.

I paw through the webs, wanting to be brave about it, not squeamish and afraid. I am uncomfortable but push forward anyway. These webs are lovely, and unlike any real-life webs I’ve seen. These are curlicued swirls of fine cotton. Mist-like and seemingly substanceless. They stick to me anyway, and everywhere. To my face, hands, and clothes.

I sweep my way along. Someone else is there, and they don’t warn against what I’m doing. This adds to my confidence, so I continue.

Next thing, hundreds of extremely tiny amber spiders are everywhere on me and biting. I rub at them and try to kill and smack them away. They mostly get my hands, but I feel one now and then up around my neck or in some hard to see place. I look carefully. There are equally tiny and similarly colored scorpions on me as well. It is horrible but I realize I can’t freak out. I have to keep it together to get them off me.

After a while I am clear of them all. My hands are puffy, warm and hurting. I look at them and see hundreds of tiny bumps. The spiders have laid their eggs under my skin. I don’t know what to do, and realize I need a doctor to help. I fight an urge to take a knife to my skin and cut the eggs away. I want to pop them like little caviars, but worry this may not be the best thing to do. I think of drowning them by immersing my hands in something caustic like vinegar. This is all I remember.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

We owned this huge Victorian mansion somewhere and everything but us within it was "period", except for the implied use of electricity. I am standing in the upstairs hallway with an electric typewriter at my knees, attempting to rip the keys out with my nails. Getting nowhere, I took from the closet a chisel and hammer and began striking in between the keys in this manner. Despite the sparks and shards of a stone-like material, the typewriter remained in tact.

Running down the hall way, I am into a room with a desk and windows, one of which I open, and then grabbing it by the cord, dangle the typewriter outside of it. My wife is on the floor, begging and pleading with me not to throw it out as I simultaneously accuse everyone for making me drop it to a mangled pyre below. At the last minute, however, I break down, and crying, pull the typewriter back in and hold it in my arms, a baby. "I can't do it!" I scream.

Next, I am downstairs in the parlor (or what I assume now to be a parlor) where there is a carousel with a thick black cord running to a statue, her hands poised above a stone organ. Then, the statue began playing, but it wasn't just the organ: a whole band came out in the simple chords on the organ, all playing Sister Ray by the Velvet Underground. The carousel lights up and begins to whirr to the strains.

Leaning into the statue, my wife asked, "Doesn't she look like Laura Ingalls Wilder?"

"No! Of course she doesn't!" I responded. Then, as I leaned in for a better look, Laura Ingalls Wilder's face turned into a screaming ghost, like at the beginning of Ghostbusters.