Archive for the ‘dreams’ Category
Then the terminal scene. It’s New York, and one of those corner neighborhoods that somehow you’ve never exactly been in before, you’ve skirted the edges, but this street is new to you. It’s lined with concept-driven middlebrow restaurants, à la those discussed at the end of this post. Places where you order over the counter and then sit and wait, places where the food rolls around on a conveyor belt, places where you sit at collective tables, etc. * I am supposed to meet someone; I am supposed to find somewhere for us to meet – though it’s never quite clear who it is that I am attending, as they never show.
The street resolves into one of these restaurants, which somehow has gotten planning permission to build right over the street, across entire intersection, blocking further walking so that everyone who has made it this far has only two choices: turn back or enter the restaurant. And in fact, once you enter, you find that there is in fact a back door, one that would allow you to continue your journey, but they’ve constructed the place such that you have to pay at the till, order some food, in order to use it.
You notice someone, younger than you and braver, jump the queue and exit through the back door. It nonetheless remains clear to you that you won’t do this. You step outside through the front door, check your phone for messages. There are none. And then you step back inside and try to figure out what to order.
The place serves sushi-like, un or undercooked items. Save that the items are organs, sheep’s gut and fatted livers, kidneys and the like. ** They do their own butchery on site; that is the concept of this one – along with the innovative turn that you can’t leave in the right direction without paying. And then you wake up.
* London restaurants of the middle-palate chain variety tend to combine a food concept with a service concept. Wagamama’s does rather nice pan-asiatic stuff, and (but) you (have to) sit at collective tables. YO! Sushi (I don’t eat sushi, so I’ve never been – I’ve only stared in the window at the Brunswick Centre) does, um, sushi but does the conveyor belt, color-coded plate thing. I could go on. The reason why this happens here and not so much in New York is because labour costs so much more here, whereas the price in New York drops close enough to zero when you factor in the armies of illegals that work in every single NYC restaurant…. So if I am lucky, someone will open a really nice line offering passable Mexican food, but undoubtedly you’ll drop coins into a bank of automat vending machines or something to get them and then squat on the floor to eat them. That sort of thing.
** Dream seamed out of vague disturbing initial stuff having to do with my cats with a thematic overlay from one of those pet hospital shows that much to my, no frustration isn’t the word, horror-struck disgust came on in a public place where I was forced to watch or look away and no doubt sur-triggered by related things on CNN last night (a feature on the stupid Egyptian pig cull a few month back and the resultant piles of organic garbage that are flooding Cairo at the moment, another piece on Roger Moore’s simultaneous campaigns for UNICEF and against foie gras). The first thing featured a veterinarian holding a still-living sheep’s intestines in his hands, in the second they were euthanizing pigs by forcing them to drink some sort of solution, and the third featured images both of the force-feeding of the ducks and a still of a normal duck liver next to the enormous, bloated organ that goes into fois gras.
But the funny thing is, whenever I see this sort of image and squeamishly look away, *** and then back again, and the away again, and so on, I always say to myself or whomever is with me, This is why I couldn’t be a doctor, a surgeon. My mother wanted me to be a surgeon but this is why I couldn’t be.
*** Someone was reading the Evening Standard the other day, which featured on the cover a terrible story about a home invasion that took place not far from my house. The person in question forced me to look away; would not show me the piece in question, allow me to read it. It was an interesting reaction, not to let me read it.
Only have part of this one. I don’t normally remember dreams, so I actually have to try to remember to remember them if you know what I mean. Problem with that is that it wakes me up, and I can use all the sleep I can get. So this is just a fragment.
My wife is cleaning up, trying to get rid of the stacks of books that grow around the house. She hands me a pile and asks if I can take these in to my office, as there really isn’t any room here, at home. There isn’t any room in my tiny office either – stacks have started to grow on the floor there too.
The books that she hands me are odd, though. They are all from the same publisher – HBJ, actually – and all have the cover design that they employed back when my wife and I were undergraduates. Americans, at least those of a certain age, will remember this design from editions Woolf’s work published during the 1990s.
I flip through the books, but don’t recognize any of the titles. Zizek on Woolf? Hmmm…. Others are novels I haven’t heard of, by authors whose names I don’t recognize. I can’t remember the titles now, but they seem to be English, rural, woodsy, Wessexy or Essexy. Mid-century or modern-day updates of all of those Hardy novels that you haven’t read and probably won’t ever.
Notes: I almost brought home The Waves to read last night, but decided on Ballard’s The Drowned World instead. Never got to it, but in the course of the evening went looking for anything by Mary Gaitskill after reading this in The Nation. While I was looking, I found two more copies of The Waves, one with the new HBJ cover and one with the old – the one my wife used in her “Woolf and Shakespeare” course back at college.
The woodsiness that adheres to books that I was handed in the dream probably has to do with the fact that I just started Adam Foulds’s The Quickening Maze, which is very woodsy indeed. I mean look at the cover even:
The changing cover designs of novels map generational change in literature departments. When I was in college, we had those black framed Penguins, while the older profs still sometimes carried around the dayglo orange models, pages falling our, held together with tape and rubber bands. I am sure that at some point I said to myself One day you will be carrying around this copy of Madame Bovary and your students will have the new edition and it will mark you as old and they will think about you when you were at college, what you were like, and so on.
I am not sure what the whole making up / distorting titles thing is about in my dreams. I know that I’ve done this forever. One of the first professors I worked with in grad school, a year-long visitor from out west, a Heideggerian comp lit theorist of the old school, who didn’t much like my work and with whom I’ve never since been in touch despite the fact that the book I’m writing very clearly originated in the work that I did in his seminar, did once tell me a story, not a very good one, platkafka or bassoborges, that when he was in grad school he became convinced that there was this book that he couldn’t find in the library, that he needed for something he was working on. He couldn’t remember the title or the author, but knew it existed and so spent days and days scouring the library looking for the work in question. You can sense the ending, no? Finally he realized that the book didn’t exist, at least not the way he had been thinking. No the book he was looking for was his own book, the one that he was writing, had to write.
Harumph. I am glad that I dream about other peoples’ books, and that I know they don’t exist, as I don’t really have time to look for them.
Just to test the limits of my new, no limits blogging, a dream from last night…
Running late, as usual, getting home after a night of drinking. For some reason I get stuck, I stop, at a vacant lot, a parking lot, on the north side of Atlantic Avenue. There is of course no parking lot on Atlantic Avenue, but this one is directly across the street from that Shell Station. This one, only at night….
I have my bag that I always carry there with me: books and magazines and notebooks, and my eee and its plug. Perhaps I am giving up. It is too late to go home; I have blown it, and not for the first time.
Just then a “madwoman” – overlayered as the homeless are during the New York winter – and swinging about broom or a rake with neither intent nor reluctance to injure slowly makes her way up the sidewalk and into the lot where I am standing. She thinks that I’ve done her wrong; whatever she is angry about it is my fault. But it is easy enough to disregard the charge. Clearly she disturbed, and moving under the guidance of something other than reason.
She moves past me and down the block, past a few buildings, to yet another vacant space, another parking lot. In this one, however, is the little shed where the attendant sits, the person in charge of both this lot and the mine.
I get there, to the other lot, just after the menacing woman has left. There’s a young woman in the little shed, in her early twenties, neither particularly attractive nor particularly unattractive. She is frightened, but not too frightened. This sort of thing must happen all the time to her, working nights at a place like this. I offer to walk her to the train, just to be sure – the F stop at York Street. It doesn’t make sense – York Street is two stops away, Bergen Street is basically right around the corner. But she reluctantly agrees.
I realize I’ve left my bag back in the other lot, so I decide to head back to retrieve it. I further decide to take a weapon with me, just in case. The only thing available is one of those branch cutters – long handles, tiny scissoring head. I can’t figure out how I’d use it as a weapon – you certainly wouldn’t try to snip somebody with it, and if you swung it by a single handle that wouldn’t work either. Obviously the answer is to hold the two handles, one in each hand, and swing it like that, but it doesn’t occur to me in the course of the dream. I take the cutter anyway.
I know before I get back to my lot that everything will be gone. The eee, probably my notebooks, the memory stick. My phone is still in my pocket. But when I get there, a man is just leaving – sheepishly, only half-stealthily – with a book in his hand. It’s Keynes’s General Theory of Employment, Money, and Interest…. except that’s not what it’s called in this dream, it’s simply called Theory of Unemployment. When I yell at him he turns, walks back to my bag, drops the book in, and then disappears and then I am woken up.
Elements of dream that recurred from the waking day that preceded it: I was a bit late getting home. I wrote a post on Brooklyn in which I mentioned Atlantic Avenue. I worried about the fact that there is a hole in the bottom of the bag that I carry, and that old keys that I don’t need anymore were threatening to fall out. I mentioned to someone that someone else really doesn’t understand Keynes’s General Theory.
Elements of the dream that have appeared in previous posts: Aside of course from Brooklyn, the tool.
Other contextually significant elements: I visited that Shell station repeatedly when my car developed a mysterious “power drain” issue – leading to battery failure at inopportune times, such as in the JFK airport parking lot after a 24 hour long flight back from Beijing or in the middle of an intersection on Clinton Street. My first daughter was born in the brown brick building visible to the right of the gas station – that’s Long Island College Hospital. My good friends may well be in that hospital tonight, delivering their second child.
Strange matters for report: I never would have walked drunkenly from Cobble Hill to Brooklyn Heights by myself. Quite the opposite. Generally when I came home worse for wear, I would have taken the 2/3 to Borough Hall and then walked down Court Street from Brooklyn Heights to Cobble Hill. When I did live in Brooklyn Heights, I never drank in Cobble Hill / Carrol Gardens. Strange that I was headed in the other direction, against the stream of personal history as it were.