dreams are archives of our cities

In dreams, affects take shape and form and color. affects are drawn into resonance, the seemingly disparate in waking life are crashed or woven together into intricate, shocking, garish, intimate realness.

A key character in dreams, or narratives of dreams, is the setting itself. In my dreams, interior and exteriors blend, neighborhoods in different cities open up to each other, like the impossible geographies of Kafka’s stories.

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(film credit: “N.Y., N.Y.” Francis Thompson, dir. 1959)

Yesterday the New York Times published an Iraq war veteran’s dreams and reflections. Here are some important excerpts:

What if it’s not a dream at all? What if I really have the city of Mosul inside of me? Or at least that neighborhood on a sunny morning. Maybe when I go to sleep I’m actually entering a world in which Iraqi mothers search through the landscape of my memory in the vain hope of finding their dead sons. My body a sort of graveyard, a repository of the lost and the dead.

Where does the dream world end and the waking world begin? There are moments, in the dead of night or far from home, when I seem to float between the two.

For Brian Turner, the veteran-dreamer-poet quoted above, both the city of Mosul and the countryside of California’s San Joaquin valley, where he grew up, are somehow viscerally melded by the combined experiences of war, violence and dreaming.

It seems almost childishly simple when I try to reconstruct it. The mother’s dead child of war is my own innocence, perhaps, as its loss is being interrogated by the world, which needs the medicine of home to…? To what? Regain its form? For me to be given back my body? To be made whole again?

The thing is, if this is true, if home is the medicine my mind is telling me to search out, then why do I continually leave? Why do I travel to the far corners of the earth? If I were to stand among those eucalyptus trees back home, if I were to reach down and clear away the red bark covering everything, what would I find?

And finally a poem :

“Here, Bullet”

If a body is what you want,
then here is bone and gristle and flesh.
Here is the clavicle-snapped wish,
the aorta’s opened valves, the leap
thought makes at the synaptic gap.
Here is the adrenaline rush you crave,
that inexorable flight, that insane puncture
into heat and blood. And I dare you to finish
what you’ve started. Because here, Bullet,
here is where I complete the word you bring
hissing through the air, here is where I moan
the barrel’s cold esophagus, triggering
my tongue’s explosives for the rifling I have
inside of me, each twist of the round
spun deeper, because here, Bullet,
here is where the world ends, every time.

(From Here, Bullet. Copyright ©2005 by Brian Turner.)


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