Primarily a writing exercise, this dream journal-inspired blog is a quiet introspective sojourn into the process that we traverse in going from private dream to public art. I see our dreaming as an internalized mythmaking. As I philosophize and expressively exhibit dreams, both private and public, I encourage and delight in creative language as a way to practice experiential metaphors through a “public dreaming." Writing Theory: Creative Dream Fiction

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Reflection on "green girl dreams Mountains" by Marilyn Dumont

Camping on the prairie by Paul Kane
Scene shows the artist with a Metis guide en route to the Buffalo Hunt
I read the unseen. Her eyes are the milk of a hollow cow, branding the misjudged beauty of a new and timely pride in the human self in all its fascinating breadth. Her words are a first kiss, and the smile afterwords, even if the kiss was a little sour.

This is my first read into Marilyn Dumont's work. A Cree/Metis poet, who is widely celebrated as a must-read in contemporary Canadian literature. Her words are bittersweet, and do not say too much. She uses language for its brevity and with singular pausing, announces the mystic inclination to wonder with a sad grace. One can easily and cathartically empty their mind of doubt when reading page after page of brilliant humility. Her self-knowledge is evident as she prints words into the mind of a page with the delicate necessity of breath.

I read this book from cover to cover in one sitting as welcomingly as opening my door to a new friend. Now, I'm looking forward to welcoming, "that tongued belonging" her latest work.

I heard of Marilyn Dumont through Black Coffee Poet, who interviewed her for Indigenous Sovereignty Week

Entering the distant cottage, there is tranquility. Mindful, the air is welcoming. It is a refuge for Aboriginal intellectuals. A group of women converse softly over tea as I wander the grounds. In the backyard, a lively, well-kept garden is lush with Canadian summer vegetables and medicinal herbs. The light hangs slowly from the deep, curling cloudscapes in the wide, Midwestern expanse. 

Battle of Duck Lake
Overlooking the property hill, a bustling cruelty unearths the dry heave crime of migratory blindness, as settler compunction fills the writhing horizon with a crooked smile. Endless houses, misshapen and identical, curve along the wasted prairie hills, and there is only a dim emanation of life. As I stare into the perfectly reflecting window of the cottage, an aural wisdom speaks in silence, carrying my body to the comfort of our Mother’s home: land.
Holy Rope

Holy rope glean
           Setting off the executioner’s raffle
                     In a dream state, turning the mind
                                To a pentatonic, indigenous scale
                                To the antique buzz in our lonely natural surroundings
                                             That prepares a decadent life

Amidst the misty hilltop laughter
                                       That echoes in the contemplative breath on high

Friday, 28 September 2012

To War or To Peace? Dream Meditations of Cicero

The Young Cicero Reading by Vincenzo Foppa
"Here I had the following dream, occasioned, as I verily believe, by our preceding conversation—for it commonly happens that the meditation and discourse which employ us in the day time, produce in our sleep an effect somewhat similar to that which Ennius writes happened to him about Homer, of whom in his waking hours he used frequently to think and speak.

My ancestor Africanus, I thought, appeared to me in a shape, with which I was better acquainted from his picture, than from any personal knowledge of him. When I perceived it was he, I confess I trembled with consternation—but he addressed me, saying, take courage, my Scipio, be not afraid, and carefully remember what I shall say to you.

...put an end to a most dangerous war."

The Reluctance of Scipio by Sebastiano Ricci
From the final surviving fragments of Cicero's Republic, translated by Francis Barham in where Cicero concludes the great struggle encountered by Scipio Africanus or Scipio the African to defend Rome from Hannibal's Carthage, when through his dreaming, he contemplates in himself the rivalries of human glory, outmatched by the revelries of spiritual splendour at witnessing the great battles raging in the firmament above, whose harmonies and glories far surpass the slight human presence on Earth in relative light.
I could not help casting my eyes every now and then on the earth. On which, says Africanus, I perceive you are still employed in contemplating the seat and residence of mankind. Now if it appears to you so small, as in fact it really is, despise its vanities, and fix your attention for ever on these heavenly objects. Is it possible that you should attain any human applause or glory that are worth the contending for?
Through a spiritual humility and an intellectual prowess, Cicero aligns with the famous wisdom of Blake, where he echoes, "all deities reside in the human breast" from Cicero's prose, "Know, then, that you are a god—for a god it must be that vivifies, and gives sensation, memory, and foresight to the body to which it is attached, and which it governs and regulates..."
A Dream by William Blake
Absolutely ridiculous head of hair, a laughable explosion of tangling fibers, uprooted death spindly and matted, and it grows. Within seconds, my entire face is hair and the dimming light of two eyes, buried in a mishmash of unwashed, lifeless ending. My half-toothless smile goes unseen.
Nebuchadnezzar by William Blake
And at the spring, a fellow isolate, pioneer of the mountainous wood, leads me with caution to the entrance of a water-born cave. A sable hollow, overrun with an immense flooding, an abundance of water only rivaled by my superfluous crown. The mountain cliffs, almost as sheer as leant towers of the modern world, embrace my energetic merriment as I peer over the rapid face and into the swallowing gorge ahead. Here, I know the meaning of possibility, losing my reflection over the quickened flow.
What shared outpouring wore down the iris and pupil
of the already blind
          And cut out of the legs from the paralyzed
          street of ghost walkers
                   Who hang onto passerby cars
                   with historical envy and thick desire
                             In the burning legs
                             that carry our men and women home
                                        From the taxes of war
                                        In terrorist fires
                                                  across the Fourth of July


                                                  Crying for Chinese tears
                                                  to put out the flame
                                                           With workhorse hands
                                                            over the Maoist grave
                                                                      A permanent red

To divulge in a communal sense of suffering
           With the Islamic world
                     Now enmeshed in divided hatred
                     with their Asian brothers

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Dreamtime and the Repatriation of Sacred Letters

Stencil art showing unique clan markers and dreamtime stories symbolising attempts to catch the deceased's spirit
"The source of the word alcheringa is Arunta, an aboriginal language of Australia. Sometimes translated as “the dreamtime,” it refers to a mythic world that existed at the beginning of time and continues to exist in our own time as a parallel world, revealing itself whenever we dream and whenever someone speaks or sings a myth." Dennis Tedlock, An Introduction to the Alcheringa Archive (From Jacket2, also on Jerome Rothenberg's Poems & Poetics

In the first edition of "Alcheringa" a quote reads, "He who loses his dreaming is lost", attributed to "Australian Aborigine". In opening of the Autumn 1970 journal, the final "Statement of Intention" reads, "to combat cultural genocide in all its manifestations". That being said, it is curious to read such studies as that printed in the Australian Journal of Media & Culture (vol. 2, no. 1 1987), where an article by Vijay Mishra entitled, "Aboriginal representations in Australian texts" reads, 

Forgotten I lost dreaming
Country I left forgotten lost 
which is epigrammatieally reduced, by the translator T.G .H. Strehlow, to "He who loses his dreaming is lost," is directly related to a failure to perceive the radical difference between oral poetics (the fluid verse translation) and the wrillen text (the epigrammatic reduction). Obviously no one can maintain a total separation of the oral from the written.

Meanwhile, if one searches in the active publications of Australia's Central Land Council, an Indigenous repertoire of activism and scholarship dedicated to principles of sovereignty, there is a very interesting article on the Strehlow, the subject of lost attribution in Alcheringa's English translation from "Australian Aborigine"entitled, "The Strehlow collection of sacred objects" regarding further issues of repatriation, while focusing on the repatriation of sacred object collected by the modern anthropologist, as opposed, in the case of Alcheringa, the repatriation of sacred letters, collected by post-modern anthropologists of world literature.

Headgear worn during dancing (wood, human hair, kangaroo hair, feathers); Arrernte people, Australia
My mother visits her perception of my reality. North of here, it gets even colder, earlier, and winter is almost perpetual. I ask her exactly what her interests are. She is unresponsive. There are two streets that accommodate visitor appeal, with cafes and the like. We walk on the frozen sidewalk ground. A haze of white ice sheathes the panorama, compressing the moment into one look of sheer petrification. Walking down the main street, it seems as though no one lives here, the outside aesthetics are drab and unused, mere coverings for the inside hospitality, driven by weathered necessity. As we walk into a café, I realize I have enemies here. In the back hall, awaiting our hot teas, a youth of my age wrestles my muscles and joints in a twisted bout of unwanted pain. Unable to satisfy his need for violence, I ask that we exit the café, and so we return into the cold, sunless ache of our thirsting feet. 

Shoes (made from feathers and human hair); Arrernte people, Australia
Midway through the year, I go south to visit my father, to witness birth. With video camera in hand, I capture my contracting stepmother on the front lawn overlooking the St. Lawrence River. In great joyful upheaval, she cries, “it’s a boy!” as the body emerges. 

Ku-ring-gai_Chase - petroglyph, via Waratah Track (Rock is triassic Hawkesbury Sandstone, 220 million years of age)
That night, sitting lone by the coal-burning fire, I am visited by a presence. A naked Indian, greeting me with the power of a thousand friendships, unites in my melodrama with healing insight. He teaches me the power of the directions, North and South. The cold childless North of human danger and the impenetrable forces of nature, and the warm South of youthful diversion in the over-ritualized haunt of abundant fires. He reaches out to me, to plead with him for the stars to answer in earthly illumination. While with eyes closed, he recounts the bitter tales of repatriation, colonization and the staggering visions of post-genocide rehabilitation, for the entire world. And I wake, alone. The sun, directly overhead in a cloudless sky, is in full eclipse.
A presence belied in the soft air aglow with diligent drizzle
         From this, our American lighthouse heaven,
                 Alit with dream
                 in stories told by great-grandmother’s
                          Life lived outside the pages of the “true”
                                      And into the truly earth-quaking
                                      of dream
Men whose throats burn with the soil of their unloved mother
        Croaking up agro-fossil drains
                Reaching from modern skylines to prehistory,
                issuing from our Christ-death
In the housed mystery of our yet undiscovered world
        Beneath each colonial home
                Shot out of the ugly worldview
                        Misplaced over the moral genealogy

In an ecological philosophy
        To dry the eyes of our spectral hosts
               Who watch and wonder
                        With still unborn eyes

- excerpt from "With Still Unborn Eyes"

Monday, 24 September 2012

Persian Mysteries and the Immortality Rites of Zoroaster

Tower of Silence (Dakhma), Mumbai by Cornelius Brown
“…never age and never die, never decay and never rot, ever living and increasing, being master of its own wish: when the dead will rise, life and immortality come, and the world be restored to its wish.” 

Yasht 19.2.11. James Darmesteter, The Zend-Avesta, Part II, The Sirozahs,Yashts and Nyayis; Sacred Books of the East, Vol. XXIII (Oxford, 1883), p.290

It is 12th century Persia, the continental-temporal mirror image of 21st century Canada. After a lesson on the estate, I a youth of educable age, begin to row across a placid lake with my father. The day is warm, with cool breezes flushing our skin in a mixed haze of natural praise and remorse for the end days of summering. My father, a muscular, bearded intimidation of manhood, speaks with the grazing lurch of intense commanding. As we row, in separate crafts, the waters turn rapid. In that moment, he begins testing me on my learned material. 

The oral literature of the day is mind-bending and terse in its memorable strings of morality, geography and spirituality. I’m able to recall various characters and events, and as I extrapolate, the waters toss and turn unexpectedly. At my wavering voice, my father’s eyes brim with the frosted fire of dark Persian mirth. Yet, as soon as I veer into future’s allusions, spouting the literary names and waves of later centuries unheard, a fire burns in his eyes of serious intent to quiet my youth’s wandering. As he reaches out to grab me into his craft and row back ashore to the consistent presence of historic symmetry, we are both swallowed by the apparition of a waterfall along the other shore, pouring us downward with the turbulent waters in a vein of undone chronology and placeless imagination. 

World According to Avesta by Orijentolog
I call out the names of literary history upwards along the upended future. Until the 21st century’s own dawning, my mind, feckless among the archaic forms of Iranianization, is unceasing in its deliberations on the foreshadowed youth of humanity. I turn and writhe with ancestral might into the sheer unknowable mists. My father has since disappeared, and in that silence I begin to know my name.  
Driving out demons with Masonic symbology
         Over the infinite sands of civilization,
         breathed and created out of time
In the sun’s ravishing corner of a universe,
         un-tempted and forever at a loss
                Between the child’s two eyes
On death and the holocaust of our forsaken government
         Laughing at the trees’ roots

When stretched to the bottom of India’s or Africa’s wells
         Ousting up the belief in life as a drunken tragedy
                              Yet, be not humourless
                              nor without comic sophistry

In the dance and song
         Come alive by the sexual majesty
                              In theatre’s delicate ways,

To present the creative being
as one with truth’s bold and upheld music
         Reflecting back in the caged mirror
                              A creator anew

- excerpt from "From Behaved Freedom to Absolute Nonsense"

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Free Association Beyond Symbols: The Interpretive Art of Freud

The Dream of Prisoners by Moritz von Schwind
(appears in Freud's 1920 publication)
"Interpretation based on a knowledge of symbols is not a technique that can replace the associative technique, or even compare with it." Sigmund Freud, A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis. p. 124

See my earlier post, The Dark Ages Revivified by the Colour of Welsh Dream-Lore for an intuitive lead into this analytical reasoning on the act of interpretation, as confirmed by Freud.

Highway travails, backseat blues, the wrested grapple on leathered frowns presses my skull to the glass with thinly worn agreement with current circumstance, transitory. I pipe up, “Now! I need a bath!” The car halts at a gated stopover, wherein curious attendees ask for a fee. The lockjaw tension spills out into an arts fiesta of European nostalgia. 

The Rose, or the Artist's Journey by Moritz von Schwind
I call out to the crowd, “Now! I have a poem!” I begin muttering, unconfident to truly belt out the words, poorly edited and written with fine ink on a magazine page. The people in the room simply continue on, unalloyed with the anti-climactic triumph of my ever- softening voice. As I saunter outside, away from the dizzying crowd, drunk on their high horse of serendipitous camaraderie, I wade in hollow memory. 

Apparition in the Woods by Moritz von Schwind
Repeating two names, Rem and Rom, as nicknames to the famed feral twins of classical Roman fate. Unnerved by the mysterious blank, open backdrop of mental awareness rusting and pasted over with tasteless eyes, I reason and devise a new way. Alone, into the darkest, thickest patch of forest, I tread the unknowable, pathless, fearless and out of mind, out of time.  
Following the wave’s break
Chilling the surf in its open, living mind

Shedding tears
Upside into the sky’s unbroken cavity

When fish jump
And break surface of mental clarity with life’s untamed spontaneity,

When life emerges
And takes of its observant few what prophecies are foretold by nature
To die the impatient death of youth
And brush past the envisioned self

Struggling to go together with soul
To the summit of human glory

- excerpt from "Borrowed from the Ancients"

Thursday, 20 September 2012

The Voice of Nothingness is Not Silent

Keep listening. Repetition is the rhythm of a harmonious narrative.

Grandma paces across the massive floor space. Such a humungous house is a crime to live in alone. This is the end, after more than half a lifetime, and he’s gone. The family remembers him well. He used to sit, unmoving, for immeasurable hours in that chair by the fireplace. 

My dad, begrudging this unseemly fact of life, is bent on taking out all the young folk (now almost in their thirties) to the grocery store, “to get whatever you want!” As we board the car, I can’t think of anything more to want than for us all to be together again, though I suppose even the Lutheran God would deem that otherwise. 

When we’ve all gone through the supermarket aisles, I’m left alone, at a loss to find exactly what I’m looking for, I trudge hell-bent through the fruits and vegetables. Everything’s rotten. 

Again, my vegetarianism is marginalized in the family, I can’t choose between swollen cantaloupe and mangled lettuce any more than I can between two cuts of meat, it all seems inedible to me. Everyone leaves the store without me. 

I walk the highways indefinitely, then, finally after a swathe of nights changing traces overhead with sunrays, I am bled of fictitious impersonality before the might of the great city ahead. The parks are filthy, and an ongoing fair only cements the fact. 

At a chess table I find my old friend from Sudan. He is indifferent, though welcoming. We move here and there amid the goings-on, attaining food and drink in our path, as we sight our circumstances and in the usual mode of conversation, dastardly criticize the milieu and technological demonry of our host society, brandishing bitter tongues of aging cynicism and spite. 

I again leave the scene, suddenly struck with a sense of purpose, to see my own Love, first-hand. 
In the reared tragedy of common history
Gone from the Irish shores that reach into the heart of a small mayflower
Lore teaching the youth and middle-aged men of their rights
                    And losing fate in the unreasonable song

To play out our entrenched groove that rides into spherical motion,
A dreamless awe maintaining the earthy power to cool enraged throats
                    And impress a soft layer of peace on the back
          An all-escaping flesh
                              Of our siblings who praise the sun
                                         And its ever-flowing majesty

- excerpt from "Along My Own Shore"