Thursday, November 8, 2007

Daydream nation

When thinking about what to post - hell, when thinking about anything, or not thinking at all, having shut down the higher cerebral functions and simply allowing the mind to run free, frolicking through endless meadows of flowers - or an emotional minefield - I'll slip with the greatest of ease into daydream. A beautiful scene is effortlessly conjured up, mellifluous notes gently float through perception embracing, then heightening, each of my senses in a dark, wood-paneled library quite similar to the one where Andrew Telfer hung himself in The Ninth Gate. No, this particular daydream contains no death, no macabre scenery of permanent loss, no Satanic abattoir. Cheap, oft-derided romanticism has a comfortable home here in this expansive bibliothèque where the earthy, Old World ésprit of finely-bound books with gilded leaves surrounds the sumptuously wrought hardwood desk that lay before me, guarding my writings with the utmost vigilance. And beyond, a grand space flanked by further repositories of knowledge and the human condition, all framed by paintings of favorite memories hanging upon the wall. And indeed there must be space, for does not the piano trio needs room for their instruments? So with the greatest of pleasure, let me introduce



and Hélène.

"Nous t'aimons, Randal." Je vous aime aussi, mes amies. What, you thought I'd choose musicians who look like Leopold Stokowski? Let us be serious, if we may. These ladies have talent in abundance, but they're certainly easy on the eyes and this is a daydream, after all.

Anyway, something haunting, mes amants. Just let me close this book and if you would be so benevolent as to permit me a moment to watch the softest tuft of dust thicken the frail shadows cast by the flickering light of the chandelier. C'est parfait. How about some Beethoven, op.70, no.2, s'il vous plaît.

Ah, that's nice.

Oh, sorry. You're still here.

If you've managed to hold your nose and wade this far through such self-indulgent tripe, I'm sure you're wondering about the title of this post. Once upon a windswept autumn afternoon - namely, yesterday - the since-pulled roots of this perpetually self-destructing post referenced earlier today were political. On what specific topic, I cannot remember even this short time past. En fait, I believe that I immediately forgot upon glancing out the window on that windswept autumn afternoon, watching the flame-tinted leaves ruthlessly voyaging upon the strong breeze, flying past the panes of glass with verve, through the ever-darkening eventide, determined to leave my street and see what magical place they'd end up at last. Given their location, and mine, that would've proven to have been one hell of a long trip. So, with hours and miles to go, perhaps an ocean to cross, I reached for some sound to accompany my pen on its own journey.

There must always be sound.

In a short blurb carefully tucked away in the liner notes of their brilliant Perdition City album, Ulver brazenly declared that it was 'music to an interior film,' that we should put on our headphones and turn off the lights. Oblivious to the outside world while daydreaming, we watch the memories we've built play before us in Dolby Digital Surround, always on widescreen: Technicolor sorrows of love, the crisp, black and white shades of happy interludes, the wicked revelries of a knave and his prey, only to have the tables lustily turned in kind and, most common of all, the loneliness of deceit, of the self, and towards others.

This daydream nation, a nearly-discarded title of a mundane blog post, has become a survival, a collection of wishes and fears. I get so tired of looking upon that bloated, bloodied, beaten corpse that is politics, that is empty talk, the disguised filth that passes for the real world, hidden behind a mask of deception trapped inside the military/industrial/entertainment cubicle. I'm more than thrilled to see that I'm not alone in those regards. It was so much easier before I had a blog. In any case, my analysis of such events is decidedly amateurish, merely fueled by anger towards those whose only wish seems to be to profit from doing evil upon this earth, and those who would willfully enable them, all the while wringing their hands, hoping that the sweat of cowardice will be enough to wash away the crimson stain, hence the continual couching of post after post in a cloak of snark lest I go fucking mad. Thus, every now and then, I have to turn away and look elsewhere, at something deeper than this jeux des mots et du sang. I want to look upon beauty, upon melancholy, the allure of a sad face hiding so many memories. Won't you tell me yours?

When we daydream, each of us resides in our own nation, our own place of refuge, gleefully grasping an idea from the ether, the mind, the heart, the soul, receiving it through the veil of senses and emotions to construct a monument to the wellspring of our own creativity, our own art, the things that inflame the passions, that move us to dare to speak up, to bare our vulnerabilities to those closest to us. We step through the screen and into the world that we've made. We may look up to the sky in search of its source. We may look to the trees and the wind that whispers through the branches, sa chanson unable to be understood unless we move even closer. We may look back down at the cathedrals rising from the earth and housing our most ancient thoughts and desires, high, drafty, dark, comforting. Walking underneath the splendidly-carved arch to step inside and stand below the vaulted height, so easy for the laughs and exaltations, screams and cries to resonate and settle in the apse we've decorated with a book, a letter, a poem, a song or, these days, even an e-mail. We drink deep of memory, anticipating the delightful echo before heading back outside. Where to now? Sharing them with others, so often with one, walking through a lush, verdant park, over a old stone bridge, through a busy street in the summer dawn where the light on your dress is the same color as that flower we talked about once before in a conversation far away in the waking world, a simple bloom that I saw in a nondescript bed while waiting for the bus. It becomes richer here, a bright daub on a fresh canvas. Or perhaps it's not quite evening, and the liquid, icy air of autumn twilight brings your dark coat closer to steal a smile as we gaze at all the unfinished works under careful construction, castles with only the foundation stones laid down, sometimes recently, so many times ages ago, a moonlit kiss the price for your help in bringing these memories to their beautiful end.

Mere variations on the theme of a sentimental fool? Perhaps. I go where daydream takes me, willfully surrendering reason to emotion, relinquishing control to desire. It's often beyond difficult to find the right color, shade, texture, thickness, of a word; so many memories in progress, so many abandoned, usually the most grotesque. From time to time, the most charming of all. And so, amidst the haunting, gently caressing notes of the allegretto, we return to the crumbling stone, the rough-hewn columns of nightmares we wish to bury once and for all, lost reveries we hope are simply in a slow-burn, hungry to become an overwhelming blaze, and we plead that this is the time, this is the hour where that one, closely-guarded feeling that sleeps a restless slumber awakens and that now is the moment where we hold within our hands the perfect word that will graciously allow us to go on. Do we?


The seconds tick and shamble into the past and we try once more, over and over. The memory remains unfinished, incomplete. Broken. And so we question ourselves while revisiting each edifice, quickly admiring not its rudimentary beauty, but the deeply-rooted feelings that inspired such feeble homages. Can they ever be repaired? Must they be replaced with something new? Frantically searching for the perfect phrase, the line of flawless height and exceptional balance, fighting the imaginary clock that laughs as it steals more and more of our time, threatening to bring us back to the realm of the conscious - patch the crack, listen to the notes and let them take us somewhere else, far away to yet another word to try once more. Fading faster and faster, will the memory hold, will it break down into its own memory, a vague sensation that there indeed was a time when it lived and breathed in our mind? So take my hand and help me fill the increasing imperfections with a new reverie and something I heard once upon a song:

so I found you
found a way all through
the quiet cold of inner darkness
and now that you're here
it becomes so clear
I have waited for you always

But you're not here, you never were, and that shadows my every effort, my every step. Yet on I walk, through this imaginary town, past the works I've built myself, that I've built with you, and all those destroyed by my own hand and my own increasing imperfections. Past the limits, through valley and over hill, I'll look for you where I always look, in my daydream nation.


Freida Bee said...

Mine are nighttime dreams involving imaginary co-conspirators that create such longings. At times I cultivate a semi-acceptance of their being aspects of myself for which I frustratingly yearn. Other times I externalize it in that oh so special human way.

Snave said...

Can I be a citizen in your daydream nation? Nicely written account of a cool world!

La Belette Rouge said...

Oh my, the places that music takes you to. I am with Snave, happy to have a temporary green card in your daydream nation.
Just want to reiterate what I have said before, I find your version of self-indulgence/ narcissism to have an archetypal quality that is universal. So, let me ask you to continue to indulge whatever self comes up with this stuff.
It is so early in the a.m. for me coffee-free brain to process the depths of your reverie---will come back later when brain has fully resuscitated.

Mary Ellen said...

Hello Randal! Oh how I wish I had time to daydream today. Looking outside at the sun and blue skies, feeling the crisp air when I went out to retrieve my dog who was supposed to be retrieving my newspaper, and taking in the view of my maple tree that looks as if it's on fire with color...that's better than anything else I could conjure up in my pea brain. The only thing missing was a headline in the Chicago Tribune that says Bush and Cheney are in that's a daydream!

Have a great day, Randal. ;-)

Candace said...

Randal, what gorgeous prose! To paraphrase Rhett Butler, you should be published, and often. :)

I also love the concept of daydream nation.

Often, the setting of my daydreams is Space, not Earth (which may explain a lot to people who know me, come to think of it...) Anyway, in a recent night dream I was some sort of ... mystic, I suppose, wearing long flowing robes and burning incense. I told Laura Bush (!), who was sitting on pillows on the floor, to close her eyes. Then I asked her to tell me where she was. She gave the address of the place (I can't remember what it was.) I said yes, and that place is located on a tiny part of a spinning water-world that is simultaneously hurtling in orbit around an ordinary star near the outer edge of an average-sized galaxy, one of billions of galaxies, really. I was helping her expand her mind so that she could "see" this. After a while I told her to open her eyes, and I asked her, "What will you do, now that you know?"

I don't know if, or what, she answered.

(yes, I am weird)

Randal Graves said...

Freida Bee, I rarely remember my nighttime dreams, which is why I value my ability to slip in and out of reality. You might be onto something about the self-aspect notion. When looking for that special one - or two, or three, or fifty or whatever floats one's boat - they have to have something alluring, something to hold onto, and it's often a facet of ourselves, whether mere surface phenomena or something deeper. It's nigh impossible to have a connection with anyone otherwise, I would think.

Snave, anytime sir, except when the piano trio is around. Then you'll have to head up to the local pub. :)

LBR, clinical madness would take over my brain if I couldn't hear another note. I think it is universal, I believe we all feel this way from time to time, but it's treated as a frivolity, which it certainly is not. It's being a human being.

Mary Ellen, very few things are more conducive to daydreaming than an autumn day. Now, as for your Bush/Cheney/bighouse daydream - hang on a minute, I want to picture them being frogmarched to the slammer. :)

Candace, you do realize that Laura Bush IS a robot and therefore cannot answer your query, right? :) It's funny though, on those rare occasions when I DO remember a dream, they never contain political figures and famous people are few and far between. I suppose that's uncommon, no? I know the processing of stuff floating around the brain is just one theory, but I find it surprising - though, I'm very glad! - that Dubya or Cheney has ever made an appearance in one of my dreams.