in the backyard of a block of railroad apartments in bushwick
we had to climb through a precarious window to reach
there stood in a line between the trees
a series of tall metal ladders
reaching up into the branches
overgrown by years
artifacts of a time
when cotton was scrubbed in tubs
and the wet sheets and linens
and pantaloons were hung out to dry
stretched on long lines from windows
3 ,4, 5 stories tall
crosscrossing the interior courtyard on mechanical pulleys
stiff in the summer sun
and winter wind
i looked at the ladders against the night sky for a while,
wondering if anyone else had been since the moment of arrival
wanting to climb,
or if this was something only a non-native new yorker would do.
then over the ledge and into the unkempt garden,
-”hey, those probably aren’t safe” -
the solid steel frame barely moved under my weight
and confident, up i went
a few stories into the night
-”hey, watch out for those power lines”-
-”hey, be careful, it’s starting to really shake” -
-”hey, maybe someone should stabilize the bottom”-
i perched near the top, momentarily
the rest still wondering aloud
-”what is she doing?”-
until i climbed down, rejoined the party,
last night i had the most violent dream i can remember. i awoke surprised and a little scared at who i’d been in my subconscious – a demon throwing plates, breaking furniture, screaming wildly and stabbing the life out of someone, a knife in my bloody hands.
Filed in autobiographical, dreams, not poems | Comment (0)
III. we were at burning man, but staying “off site”, camping at a place with rivers and trees. but after lounging endlessly i realize it’s saturday, and we’ve practically missed it. i scramble to get a ride out there, to the event, but no one else seems to care and then so many groupwrangling problems and distractions and then i realize i don’t even have my ticket.
II. he just kept getting angry at me for not being able to provide the information.
I. i keep losing people. losing mom. losing jay. everyone disappearing into crowds.Filed in dreams | Tagged with anxiety | Comment (0)
at some point in my waking dream this morning i felt inspired and determined to replace the quantitative “1 to 10″ scale with a rainbow scale for answering qualitative questions, so that people would start answering qualitative questions with colors, where white=fantastic/clear/up and black=terrible/dark/down. “how do you feel today?” “oh, pretty good, somewhere between pink and red…” and everyone would understand. colors just seem so much more appropriate for qualitative things than the 1-10 numerical system.
personally, i feel somewhere around yellow–>green today.
thanks to the World Ending May 21st prophecy, and all the associated internet memes this week, last night i dreamed that it happened. my POV was from somewhere in the north oakland/berkeley hills, and it was a clear night. then suddenly: a mushroom cloud and bright orange light from the west, and san francisco was gone. charcoal. obliterated. you would think there would have been more panic in my dream, but there wasn’t. it was more morbid curiosity, or not unlike going into the hills to watch the 4th of july fireworks. some time later, a smaller flash of light/explosion, approximated somewhere in berkeley. even knowing that people i loved had died, i was still unpanicked. perhaps it was shock. i don’t remember what i planned to do, only that it seemed beautiful and i was not worried.
i assume this surfacing of the world ending May 21, 2011 calculation is Christian one-upmanship/backlash/backchannel against the “heathen” 2012 prophecy, which i also put no stock in. i mean, i did go to a remote canyon in Sedona, Arizona to Party Like It Was 1999 for Y2K, but that was more because the opportunity presented itself. i didn’t really care if the world ended.
in any case, jokes aside, being as i am, i have been thinking about What If The World Did End Tomorrow? i didn’t do anything different this week. no shopping sprees or sudden forays into hard narcotics, but i did think about the state of my soul. and perhaps from some belief perspectives, this is the sign of a true blind sinner, but i think i’m alright. i do not believe that Jesus Christ is My Savior, but i think he was, whether a fictional figure or a real man, a righteous revolutionary and i’m down with the philosophy of the JC. i’m pretty sure that i have not lied, cheated, or stolen from anyone without asking for forgiveness any time in the recent past, i think my moral compass is compassion-centric, and i believe that i do Good Works and not only avoid but fight against Evil. in short: i believe i have good karma.
i think that’s why in my dream last night i wasn’t worried. because, hey, if the world does end tomorrow, there’s nothing i can do to stop it, and nothing i would’ve done differently about the way i live my life. i mean, i would have DONE some different things, but not changed my philosophy. i think they call this “peace of mind”, and i feel good about that.Filed in dreams, oracles, philosophical ramblings | Tagged with karma | Comment (1)
“We all have our time machines. Some take us back, they’re called memories. Some take us forward, they’re called dreams.”
— Jeremy Irons
(note: this was written before having read any one else’s email/posts about Inception, so as to not blur/influence my initial thoughts, so this is probably missing many things other people have already discussed. this doesn’t really have any big spoilers but you might avoid reading the Inception part if you haven’t seen the film yet and are going to.)
memories, dreams and reality – how distinguishable are they? i have fairly vivid dreams almost every night, and also a lot of memories i’m not sure are real, so this topic is of high interest to me personally. the function of dreams has been studied at every angle from spiritual to physiological, and the psychological process of creating memories has been well studied and recorded. memories and dreams have been the subject of art and films for as long as can be traced, as these realms are difficult to understand, and seem to contain keys to human consciousness. recently i read that recent experiments with sleep deprivation and “dream withdrawal” showed that if a person is deprived of dreams they begin to show psychotic tendencies while awake, and therefore maybe the function of dreams is to allow for a time of quiet insanity and that maybe it is not sleep that is necessary for well-being, but dreams (sorry, cannot find citation).
I. 2 weekends ago we watched Waltz with Bashir (available on Netflix) – a mostly-true film about participants in the 1982 Lebanon War and the horrible civilian massacre that occurred (warning: i was unprepared for the actual real footage of this event shown at the end of the film). the mission of the main character is to determine which of his memories of such a chaotic and traumatic period as a solider are true. the film is done in absolutely gorgeous animation, which supports the dreamlike quality.
i found this film not only educational (i myself had no idea what happened in that war, as i was an American and only 6, but i remember Beirut being a city name i heard on the news quite often during that time), but brilliant in that it captures not only the confusion that soldiers feel in chaotic wartime (forgetting all training/orders and acting only in self-defense, mass hysteria, trauma), but also the crux of the question of what memories are and how they are created. all but one of the characters in the film is a real person, and each of them, through the series of interviews, questions who/what/where/why/how. if 2 people are in the same place at the same time, but each remembers it differently, how does anyone ever know what really happened? i highly recommend Waltz with Bashir not only for its beauty and history, but for the bravery to question traumatic political events that collectively have a million different memories contributing to the public understanding.
II. watching Inception last weekend [SPOILER ALERT: STOP READING HERE], i have to say i was unimpressed by its lack of creativity and i got bored. my brain just kept returning to every other film on the relative subjects of the intersection of dreams, memories and consciousness manipulation i’ve ever seen (Waking Life, Scanner Darkly, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Dream a Little Dream, and the director Nolan’s previous film, Memento), and most of all, the classic Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. the idea of the film was simple but the execution was overly complicated, and somewhere around the “third level” snow scene i was completely bored and wondering why we were being taken through all that ridiculousness. for other people that was probably a very entertaining part of the film, but i’m not someone entertained by shootouts and explosions and special effects, so it all seemed incredibly superfluous and that last 1/3 of the film just dragged on forever for me. that, and the whole embedded love story, there to give personal weight to the intentions of the main character and provide another plotline (and possibly a whole subplot of her participation not brought to light in the film), seemed entirely unnecessary to what otherwise would have been a fairly straightforward idea: we plant an idea in a dream, and make the dream complex enough for the dreamer to believe it was their own, and s/he wakes up and changes life course. however, the big question on that premise, for me, was this: has a dream ever made you actually change YOUR life?
the final question laid in front of the viewer in the final second of the film was just so OBVIOUS – was it ALL a dream? if so, whose dream was it? – that i am not even interested in addressing it, because i think 1. the point is that you will never know, and 2. the script doesn’t seem mature enough to actually have a tight resolution to that even if you watched the movie 100 more times looking for “clues” (here’s a link though if you want to).
the psychological aspects of the film are of more interest to me than the film itself, and while i understand they are all intertwined, the substory of the wife going mad after spending 50 years in a dream and not believing “reality” (i guess i should put that in quotes) was much more intriguing to me than the main plot, looping back to the idea of what it means to remember, and what our consciousness decides our story has been, and how.
i am more intrigued by the ranting homeless people i see screaming at bus stops or cases of extreme savants and schizophrenia: science-fiction unnecessary, there are humans on this planet at this very moment who are living in an entirely different world than we are. those of us who consider ourselves “sane” are only such because our brains have set up layers of filters for the infinite amount of sensory data it receives. what if those filters were to disappear? many suggest that perhaps this is what manifests in our dreams.
i know i am going very wide with this, but i have very little use for fiction unless i can relate it to and question real life (i guess that makes me a “plausibilist”). i am not big on fantasy, and i have little suspension of disbelief when it comes to films. so i spent most of the time watching Inception thinking about all of these other things, and caring less about the plot and the characters. is that what the film was supposed to do? if so it did its job, but i could have done without the blockbuster bits (i much prefer Linklater’s style).
(btw if you haven’t seen Ellen Page in Hard Candy, i highly recommend that deeply twisted film.)
now that i’ve written that, here’s some good bits of what other people have written about Inception:Filed in dreams, personal favorites, philosophical ramblings, tv, books and movies | Comment (0)
“I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night? Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is ‘Who in the world am I?’ Ah, that’s the great puzzle!“
- Alice, in Wonderland
i love synchronicity, even if oblique.
as posted, BadUnklSista, the butoh performance group i often dance with, is doing a 2-night production in SF this weekend @http://counterpulse.org/ , a double-bill with The Carpetbag Brigade, an unlikely composition of amazing performance artists who are currently doing an extremely mad take on Jack and the Beanstalk. while some of BUS performances are loose, organic pieces that we rehearse very little for, this one was choreographed, and because i was back east visiting my family last weekend, i wasn’t able to attend the rehearsals and therefore wasn’t able to participate as a performer. we went as audience members last night instead. jay asked afterward why i so like abstract performance art – what do i get out of it/what do i love about it? (a side topic being that i don’t think people can choose what kind of art (including music) moves them. you can try to make yourself like an art form, but really i think you either do or you don’t, n’est-ce pas?) i can’t explain how much it moves me, every time, but i’ll try.
do you have those dreams, where nothing makes sense, you’re not even sure who/what/where, but you wake up with a feeling as though you witnessed something so deep it meant everything? i have them often, and the Carepetbag Brigade’s “You Don’t Know Jack” performance was as such, with people doing odd things with unexpected objects, saying things that on the surface sound like mad gibberish but when digested, when it all hits you as one piece, as a whole, seems so universal that it means everything. the poetic dialogue and songs were interwoven in odd but meaningful ways, the words carefully chosen, the physicality rich and directive, and at the end i felt as if awaking from one of those dreams. i couldn’t quite grasp what had happened, but i felt changed by it.
and then, Bad Unkl Sista’s performance, which i won’t even attempt with the details. most prominently, I am completely in love with Totter Todd‘s music right now (the dark place inside that you act from but never look at/swallow your fear, swallow it whole/you’re killing yourself with your own beauty). BUS performances are always an honest and intense look at that which we are, the pieces of ourselves which we hide, which we let eat us from the inside, and the joy at relieving ourselves from such self-inflicted prisons. there’s a certain part of myself that i am really not liking these days (in short: judgmental, and vocally), which is often exacerbated by visiting my family, and the performance last night brought a lot of that to the surface. i am thinking i need a long strand of red string to tie around my wrist as a reminder of a few things i need to work on for a while (in the performance, such a string was used as a representation of your fear(s), which it is suggested in both song and action that you ingest, digest, and then regurgitate into something that tastes like relief).
thank you Bad Unkl Sista for always bringing such beauty, whether i am inside it or watching from afar. there’s another performance tonight @counterpulse in SF, which i’m sure will be similar but different. if you like intensity and songs and dances and abstract dreams that seem to say almost nothing directly but mean everything, i highly encourage you to attend tonight.
what does this have to do with rabbit holes and synchronicity? the new Alice in Wonderland opened in SF this weekend, and we have a large crew (30+) who will be going to see it tonight, many of us in costume. and while the Disney version is just fine, those who have read the original texts know that Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass are much more than childrens’ stories, and are quite philosophically intricate and more than a little bit metaphysical. it’s obvious why the psychedelic community latched onto its metaphors.
so with all the anticipation for the new film and mind wandering in that direction for this past week, particularly visiting my mother, who has an enormous collection of Alice in Wonderland memorabilia in her dining room/living room cabinets (indeed: dolls and figurines and books and all sorts of collectors items), walking out of the performance last night felt like the start of a weekend-long visit down the rabbit hole. then after another night of intense, crazy dreams, waking up this morning, it’s true: i’m really not sure i am the same person i was when i went to sleep last night, and if not, who that means i am today.Filed in art, bay area gems, dreams, events, oracles | Tagged with badunklsista, butoh | Comment (0)
jay got sick last thurs night with what was at first thought to be food poisoning, from what unsure, and he was in bed and didn’t eat for 2 days. which, you now, for a diabetic, is a little scary. we went to a dinner party saturday night, and he sat in a room full of food and didn’t eat a thing. i was feeling fine right up into that dinner party, although sluggish that afternoon, but at around 5AM sunday morning i woke up to a headache like i haven’t had since the last time we went to las vegas and my stomach in knots. i then spent all day sunday and all day monday in bed, under covers, eyes closed, unable to eat or drink a thing without it coming back up, my body literally shutting down. yesterday i pulled myself together to go to work for a few hours and then attend the SF Fashion Feud, where, fueled by a red bull and a burrito, i finally started feeling like myself again.
however, going to bed after having your first meal in 3 days be a red bull and a burrito isn’t a recipe for a good night’s sleep, and i had some seriously tumultous dreams last night. i don’t remember all of them except the one right before i woke up, but i do know that they were all anxious, stressful, uneasy.
this is the one i recall:
i pulled out of the gate of my loft building in west oakland (a neighborhood often riddled with street crime IRL) onto the one-way street, going the wrong direction. i was in some sort of high-speed golf cart type thing. i was driving fast, the wrong direction. i had a machine gun, or some other automatic weapon. i was firing streams of bullets randomly across the plaza intersection of West Grand and Mandela Parkway, in all directions, at oncoming traffic. i was full-throttle. i was alone. i was brazen. i did not care. i was blank. i headed up mandela parkway, still going the wrong way, until i saw, parked ahead, a police car. i abandoned my golf-cart and weapon. i made it look like i was on foot. i went running up the police car, suddenly the victim. i was crying. i was telling what i saw, giving the witness account but knowing that i was the one who had done it, guilt tying my stomach in knots, hoping to not get caught. this went on for a while, me playing the victim while knowing i was the offender. the anxiety, the self-hatred, was overwhelming. i couldn’t tell if i was remorseful about what i had done, or if i just didn’t want to get caught. there didn’t seem to be a lot of remorse. just a lot of not wanting to get caught.
i woke feeling sick to my stomach, some of which leftover from my actual illness, some from the dream. i have never in my life been inclined to such violence. there is no part of me that even wants to play “shoot ‘em up” video games, where one pretends to kill. i have had a few violent outbursts in my life, and they totally caught me offguard. so waking from this dream – in which initially i was utterly void of guilt, willing to kill innocents to express my anger and rage (at what i still don’t know) – i was horrified at myself. that any part of my psyche could even have that ability. and then to flip to the role of being the guilty person pretending to be the victim – a person who would steal and rob and kill and then blame others, and then claim it was an act against them. that mindset was, in the end, even more disturbing than the initial role, more gut-wrenching. to live with that.
my coworker suggests that in our dreams, we are all of the roles, and that in this instance i was 1. the aggressor 2. the cop and 3. the victim. and that some part of me is doing/wants to do something i know is wrong, then another part of me that stops me from doing it, and then i feel restrained, but guilty for even doing/wanting to do the thing in the first place, finally representing my feeling of restraint as being a victim. upon reflection i do not know what this thing is in my life that i could be feeling this way about. i could take some guesses, but there is nothing front of mind.
OR, perhaps i was putting myself in all 3 roles as a sort of empathic exercise. there hasn’t been any recent significant bout of violence in my immediate ‘hood, but i still see signs of it on a daily basis, and reading the news there is no escaping the reality that life for the poor is only only getting poorer, and imaging that frustration is maybe where these dreams come from, as i ride the bus or bike through the city and see the homeless with their shopping carts, the youth with their attempts at making themselves feel big and part of something bigger, the elderly just trying to get by as invisibly as possible, having learned that standing out often only means being beaten down.
regardless of interpretation, i awoke with all of this in my consciousness, still feeling a little ill, waiting restlessly for the day when the entire world can take a global sigh of relief.Filed in autobiographical, dreams | Comment (0)
i want to walk naked through the streets with you, barefoot, our bodies and minds worn clean.
i don’t know what i was dreaming, but those are the words that were running through my head when i woke up this morning.
last night i had a dream wherein my longtime friend and tori fan Aurabelle and i went to a tori amos show at a small venue, and we kept telling the people who came with us how awesome and intense she is, and then she took the stage and proceeded to sing a couple of severely dark and disturbing “new songs” that sounded more like psychotic rants with banging on the piano and throwing chairs around the stage and breaking shit and then after like half an hour of this she completely lost it and started screaming and sobbing and eventually left the stage. the people we were with thought this was part of her “intensity” we told them about, but Aurabelle and i both started crying and hugging each other because it felt like had just watched someone we love have a horrible nervous breakdown. and then i woke up.
it wasn’t a good dream.Filed in dreams | Tagged with tori amos | Comment (0)