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

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

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Cicero is one of those literary mystics that often gets lost in the shuffle of crumbling Latinates. You do a wonderful job here of keeping the flame burning, and of making the connection to Blake no less!

    And as usual you throw so much intensity and thought into the mix I can be groggy for days. Love the passion in the world peace poem (if that's what it is). We need to work on an international peace flag!